Posts Tagged ‘Hermitage’
Global Post. Agence France-Presse on Nov 13, 2015 @ 9:24 PM
The United States lamented Russia’s failure Friday to punish those responsible for the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, on the sixth anniversary of his murky demise in a Moscow jail.
Magnitsky died aged 37 after trying to expose the alleged embezzlement from investment fund Hermitage Capital of $230 million by figures linked to Russian political circles.
He was arrested in 2008 and died in prison in 2009 of an untreated illness that Russia’s own presidential human rights council said was “provoked by beating.”
The wider Hermitage case is now a notorious international scandal, but six years later no-one in Russia has been held to account for Magnitsky’s death.
“The anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death is a reminder of the human cost of injustice,” US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.
“Those responsible for his unjust imprisonment and wrongful death remain free, despite widely publicized and credible evidence of their guilt,” he said.
“We salute Sergei Magnitsky’s memory and those who work to uncover corruption and promote human rights in Russia, despite official intimidation and harassment.
“We will continue to fully support the efforts of those who seek to bring these individuals to justice, including through implementation of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.”
The Magnitsky Act targets named Russian individuals accused of a role in the Hermitage scandal, prohibiting them from traveling to the United States or using US banks.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has refused to launch a probe into alleged mistreatment of Hermitage Capital auditor Sergei Magnitsky who died in 2009 in a Moscow pretrial center while awaiting trial on embezzlement charges, according to a statement released by Hermitage Capital on Friday.
Sergei Magnitsky’s mother claims that her son was handcuffed and beaten with rubber batons before he died. She insists that independent expert examinations confirmed that Magnitsky was tortured while in custody.
The fund’s statement says that the Investigative Committee nevertheless decided to refuse the probe again, based on “existing evidence” and decisions made by head investigator and prosecutor.
“The Investigative Committee’s resolution does not state the reasons why the individuals involved in using batons and handcuffs against Magnitsky before his death were not held liable”, the fund’s statement reads.
Magnitsky worked for Firestone Duncan and represented Hermitage Capital which was accused of tax evasion by Russian authorities. Magnitsky was arrested on fraud charges in November 2008 and found dead in a Moscow detention center in November 2009.
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In a show of strength and leadership British Ministers have taken tough action against someone who is clearly a major threat to British national interests. The government has imposed a ban on entering into Britain of an American called Julien Blanc. But as he gets tough with a fellow citizen of President Obama, David Cameron remains resolutely aligned with President Putin’s view that his fellow citizens should not face similar sanctions to that imposed on Julien Blanc.
Blanc is an absurd sexist self-publicist who describes himself as a ‘pick-up artist.’ Britain is probably better off without his presence but in the same week, MPs of all parties gathered to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the killing of a British employed tax lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. He died in agony on a Moscow prison floor five years after 12 months of being brutally treated by state officials working for President Putin.
The MPs are still waiting for David Cameron to take any action against those named as linked to his death.
Magnitsky was employed by a British firm, Hermitage Capital, to investigate the disappearance of $230 million which Hermitage paid in tax to the Russian equivalent of HMRC. He found the money had been diverted into the accounts of Putin’s tax police who are at the heart of corrupt business-political nexus that enriches politicians and favoured state functionaries.
The young father of two persisted in his demands that the money be accounted for. He was arrested, thrown into prison, and tortured to try and persuade him to drop the case. He refused and was then he was so badly treated he died.
Magnitsky’s employer, Bill Browder, an American born British citizen was so outraged he used his firm’s considerable resources to track down those responsible for his employee’s death and find out where they had bank accounts or assets overseas.
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This week marks the fifth anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in a Russian prison. He was 37 years old, a member of the emerging middle class who worked as a lawyer for a man named Bill Browder, the leader of the largest Russia-only investment firm in the world. Browder’s company, Hermitage Capital Management, started with $25 million during the Wild West-era of early Russian capitalism and had $4.5 billion in assets by the early 2000s.
Over time, Browder became an activist investor of sorts, exposing corruption in Russian companies and trying to make Russian capitalism more transparent. In doing so, he thought, he could both steer Russian companies a little closer to the Western model while also making money for his firm.
But, when Vladimir Putin became the president of Russia in 2000, he and his cronies were not interested in corporate transparency. How could they line their pockets if everything was transacted out in the open? So Browder became persona non grata. After a trip to Britain in 2005, he was refused re-entry. A few fictitious documents later, and Hermitage had $1 billion in “liabilities.” Then, a handful of officials involved in a takeover of Hermitage requested — and received within 24 hours! — a $230 million tax refund. It was a textbook example of the kind of corporate pillaging for which the Putin kleptocracy became infamous.
Browder pleaded with Magnitsky to flee the country, as his other lawyers had done. But Magnitsky insisted on investigating — and speaking out about — the fraud that had taken place. For his troubles, he was imprisoned in 2008. By summer of 2009, he had developed pancreatitis, which went untreated despite his pleas. He died that November. Browder says that when he learned of Magnitsky’s death, it was “the worst news I had ever received in my life.”
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A cross-party group of MEPs has urged the EU foreign service to stop ignoring the European Parliament on Magnitsky sanctions.
Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption activist, died in jail in 2009 in what EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy once called an “emblematic case” for lack of law and order in Russia.
The EU parliament has urged EU diplomats in four resolutions over the past four years to follow the US in blacklisting the Russian officials implicated in the killing.
This week, 23 MEPs from centre-right and liberal groups in the EU assembly urged foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini to “present a proposal to the Council of Ministers to sanction these 32 individuals”.
They said in a letter, seen by EUobserver: “As the new head of the European External Action Service, what nearest actions do you plan to undertake … to make sure there is no further impunity in the Magnitsky case?”.
MEPs have no formal powers on foreign affairs.
But Mogherini’s spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, told EUobserver the letter is “a new opportunity to consider the case”.
She noted that top EU officials, such as Van Rompuy and Mogherini’s predecessor, Catherine Ashton, on several occasions urged Russia to take action on the issue.
“So far we have not seen a satisfactory response”.
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Statement by OSCE PA human rights chair on the five-year anniversary of the death of Sergei Magnitsky
On the eve of the 5th anniversary of the death of Sergei Magnistky, the Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee, Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), has called for an end to impunity in Russia and greater attention to the persistent link between corruption and human rights transgressions across the OSCE area.
“The killing of whistleblowing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on 16 November 2009 captured the attention of the world, but still, five years later, has not brought the change to his country that its citizens deserve. Let us mark this anniversary by remembering why Magnitsky’s life was taken – that is, for speaking truth to power. Let us renew our call for an end to impunity in Russia, not only for the people who killed this true patriot, but for the systemic corruption, human rights transgressions and lack of rule of law that have led to his and other unacceptable deaths there,” Santos said.
“We must also remember why Magnitsky’s case continues to have meaning far beyond Russia: On an almost weekly basis we hear of instances across the OSCE area and in the wider world in which state authorities abuse their power to silence those who expose lapses in the rule of law. Lawlessness and corruption continue to erode human rights. I applaud the numerous countries that have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky’s killing, but the OSCE and the international community must do more to demand adherence in Russia and beyond to the norms of a civilized and just world,” Santos added.
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Britain-based businessman William Browder says the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) will revisit Russia’s request for his arrest on charges linked to whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail five years ago this week.
Interpol informed Browder that it will consider the request during a November 20-21 meeting at the organization’s headquarters in Lyon, France, he told RFE/RL.
Interpol has twice rejected earlier Russian requests for a so-called “red notice” against Browder, citing Russia’s “political” goals in the matter.
Russian prosecutors said in June that Interpol had decided to reconsider Russia’s request.
Interpol could not immediately be reached for comment.
Browder has led a global campaign for sanctions against Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky’s death on November 16, 2009.
A Russian court convicted Browder in absentia and Magnitsky posthumously on tax evasion charges last year, decisions slammed by Western governments and rights groups.
Browder told RFE/RL that the basis for Russia’s new push for an Interpol warrant against him is linked to Magnitsky’s posthumous trial, which he called “one of the most scandalous legal proceedings in legal history.”
“It’s surprising that Russia would have the nerve to use this as a basis to have me arrested, and it’s even more surprising that Interpol would even entertain this discussion,” Browder said.
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When a 37-year old auditor Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison, the incident generated international media attention. This factbox shows a detailed review of the incident and its subsequent development.
MOSCOW, November 16 (Sputnik) — Five years ago, on November 16, 2009, Sergei Magnitsky, a tax and legal consultant of the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund accused of corporate tax evasion, died at the Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial detention facility.
On November 24, 2008, Sergei Magnitsky, also a managing partner at the auditing company Firestone Duncan, was detained by the Moscow Police’s tax crimes division. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Interior Ministry, now the Investigation Department of the Russian Interior Ministry, charged Magnitsky with corporate tax evasion, while investigating the Hermitage Capital criminal case.
On November 26, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court issued a warrant for Magnitsky’s arrest.
Hermitage Capital Management, a British investment fund, specializes in Russian market operations. In the early 2000s, the fund invested heavily in the Russian market. Hermitage was among the clients of Firestone Duncan, which provides legal services for taxes, auditing and accounting.
Russian law enforcement agencies charged the fund with failure to pay four billion rubles in taxes. In the summer of 2007, investigators conducted the first searches at the Hermitage Capital office and affiliated companies. The fund’s CEO, Bill Browder, claimed that Hermitage Capital had exposed the corruption fraud of the century in Russia, and that the 5.4 billion rubles paid by the fund had been embezzled by raiders.
Magnitsky was charged with committing crimes listed in Articles 33.3, 33.5 and 199.2 of the Russian Criminal Code (organization of and complicity in large-scale corporate tax evasion schemes by a group of persons by prior collusion).
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Documents found at Viktor Yanukovych’s country residence link his business activities to Russian corruption uncovered by lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Newly found documents show that three companies with links to ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych are also connected to the money-laundering scandal uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who died in prison after exposing high-level fraud and embezzlement among Russian officials.
An investigation by Hermitage Capital Management, the investment firm for which Magnitsky was employed, shows the companies named in the documents uncovered at Yanukovych’s presidential palace are registered at the same United Kingdom address, and share the same offshore shell companies and Latvian directors as were found in Magnitsky’s investigation.
An employee of Hermitage, Vadim Kleiner, sifted through the documents uncovered by Ukrainian journalists after Yanukovych’s flight from Kiev and posted his findings to YanukovychLeaks.org, a website created to compile the nearly 200 folders of documents found at the estate. He found that three companies mentioned in the documents as holding some of Yanukovych’s assets or being otherwise tied to the president — Navimax Ventures, Roadfield Capital LLP, and Fineroad Business LLP — had strong links to entities exposed in Magnitsky’s investigation into $230 million in tax revenues which were stolen by Russian officials from Hermitage holding companies. The results of Kleiner’s inquiry were provided to BuzzFeed by Kleiner and William Browder, the head of Hermitage.
In his investigation, Magnitsky followed $40 million to a Latvian bank account for Technomark Business Ltd., a U.K.-registered company with an ownership in Nevis. Technomark shared the same registering address as Navimax, and the names of its Latvian directors also appear in documents relating to the other two companies.
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