Posts Tagged ‘US’
A federal judge on Wednesday granted a request from U.S. prosecutors to file an amended complaint alleging further money laundering by a Russian businessman, as well as a forfeiture order narrowing the assets to be seized in the case.
U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa approved the request at a contentious hearing between prosecutors and lawyers for companies owned by Denis Katsyv, who is accused of laundering some of the proceeds of an alleged $230 million tax fraud in Russia exposed by deceased lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The amended complaint, prosecutors said, provides additional allegations of money laundering and “significantly narrows” the amount of property the U.S. seeks to forfeit.
“It is necessary to have” the amended complaint and forfeiture order for the case to continue, said Judge Griesa.
The civil forfeiture case brought by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office in September 2013 alleged that Mr. Katsyv used some of the laundered money to buy real estate in New York. Prosecutors say a portion of the funds traveled through several shell companies into Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus-based real estate company that laundered the money into its real estate holdings, including those subject to the forfeiture action.
Mr. Katsyv and his company, Prevezon Holdings, deny the allegations, having tried to dismiss the case in March, and through its lawyers they denied the new accusations raised Wednesday.
The amended forfeiture order, prosecutors said, seeks about $14 million in assets, including $10 million in property in New York and about $4 million, in euros, at an account in the Netherlands. The original forfeiture action sought all assets, known and unknown, tied to Mr. Katsyv and his partners; Judge Griesa had told prosecutors to restrain the order after hearing from lawyers for the defendants that unrelated assets in Russia and elsewhere were frozen.
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Magnitsky Sanctions Designations
OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL
Specially Designated Nationals List
The following individuals have been added to OFAC’s SDN List:
ALISOV, Igor Borisovich; DOB 11 Mar 1968 (individual) [MAGNIT].
GAUS, Alexandra Viktorovna (a.k.a. GAUSS, Alexandra); DOB 29 Mar 1975 (individual) [MAGNIT].
KHLEBNIKOV, Vyacheslav Georgievich (a.k.a. KHLEBNIKOV, Viacheslav); DOB 09 Jul 1967 (individual) [MAGNIT].
KLYUEV, Dmitry Vladislavovich (a.k.a. KLYUYEV, Dmitriy); DOB 10 Aug 1967 (individual) [MAGNIT].
KRATOV, Dmitry Borisovich; DOB 16 Jul 1964 (individual) [MAGNIT].
KRECHETOV, Andrei Alexandrovich; DOB 22 Sep 1981 (individual) [MAGNIT].
LITVINOVA, Larisa Anatolievna; DOB 18 Nov 1963 (individual) [MAGNIT].
MARKELOV, Viktor Aleksandrovich; DOB 15 Dec 1967; POB Leninskoye village, Uzgenskiy District, Oshkaya region of the Kirghiz SSR (individual) [MAGNIT].
STEPANOV, Vladlen Yurievich; DOB 17 Jul 1962 (individual) [MAGNIT].
SUGAIPOV, Umar; DOB 17 Apr 1966; POB Chechen Republic, Russia (individual) [MAGNIT].
TAGIYEV, Fikret (a.k.a. TAGIEV, Fikhret Gabdulla Ogly; a.k.a. TAGIYEV, Fikhret); DOB 03 Apr 1962 (individual) [MAGNIT].
VAKHAYEV, Musa; DOB 1964; POB Urus-Martan, Chechen Republic, Russia (individual) [MAGNIT].
Ros-Lehtinen, McGovern Pen Letter to President Obama Urging Russian Officials be Added to Magnitsky List
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, joined by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, today sent a letter to President Obama asking for the Administration to add names of Russian officials responsible for human rights abuses to the Magnitsky list. The Magnitsky list was established in 2012, when the President signed the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act into law, and was named after Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky who was imprisoned by Russian authorities after he began investigating a large fraud scheme that involved Russian tax officials. Magnitsky was thrown into the notorious Butyrka prison where he was held for over 11 months without trial and was beaten, tortured and denied much needed medical treatment and subsequently died in custody as a result of his harsh treatment.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Putin and his officials have grown increasingly brazen with their attempts to silence dissent and with their human rights abuses against those in Russia who try to shine a light on the corruption of the state, yet the Administration has hesitated to take action despite having received several names to be added to the Magnitsky list. No names have been added to this list since April 2013, and that sends a message to the Kremlin that it can continue to violate the rights of the Russian people and the United States will sit by and take no action. I thank Jim and I are happy to join forces in urging the President to use the full intent and scope of the Magnitsky list to promote human rights in Russia, and we hope he will add more names to the list.”
Statement by McGovern:
“The Magnitsky Act can be an important tool in the effort to promote human rights – but only if the Administration uses it,” Rep. McGovern said. “I am proud to join with my colleague Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in this bipartisan effort, and I look forward to the Administration’s response.”
To read the letter, please click here.
For the list of names Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and McGovern submitted, please click here.
The Obama administration is considering placing Iran-style banking sanctions on selected Russian financial institutions if Moscow were to send troops into eastern Ukraine.
The banking sanctions are one of a series of measures that the administration has been discussing with Congress in recent days as it seeks to find ways to isolate Moscow diplomatically and economically, according to congressional aides and officials.
Banking sanctions are a powerful tool which take advantage of the US’s central role in the international financial system and which have helped place considerable pressure on the Iranian economy over the past two years. If a Russian bank were targeted, then any bank in the world that continues to do business with it can be cut off from the US financial system.
The banking sanctions are being examined as secondary series of measures, which are aimed more at deterring Russia from taking military action in eastern Ukraine. In response to the immediate crisis in Crimea, the administration is considering placing senior Russian officials on a visa ban and asset freeze list. The idea of broader trade and investment sanctions, which secretary of state John Kerry alluded to at the weekend, is only being analysed as a much more distant prospect.
The debate in Washington over what sort of economic tools to use against Russia comes amid some signs of friction between the US and Europe over how quickly – and how aggressively – to apply economic pressure.
European diplomats have expressed frustration that they are portrayed as dithering while the US is seen as decisive, when the stakes are far higher on their side.
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Russian officials implicated in the prosecution and death of corruption whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky could soon face new European sanctions on their travel and financial assets.
U.S. lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the Magnitsky Act in December 2012, which placed visa and asset bans on 18 Russian officials either involved in Magnitsky’s case or accused of human rights abuses.
Magnitsky died in prison in 2009 after uncovering a $230 million tax fraud by Kremlin authorities and was found guilty of tax evasion last year—a posthumous conviction that was widely condemned by human rights advocates.
European governments are now taking steps toward implementing similar sanctions in their own countries.
The Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution by a wide margin last week urging Russian officials to fully investigate Magnitsky’s death. It directed member governments to enact “targeted sanctions” if Russia fails to respond adequately.
Immigration authorities in the United Kingdom have also acknowledged those linked to the Magnitsky case in their visa approval instructions.
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Congress often plays an important corrective role when the Executive Branch puts pragmatism before principle on human rights. Last week, bipartisan pairs of senators did so again by introducing a new bill and pushing the Obama administration on implementing an existing one.
On January 15th, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Global Human Rights Accountability Act (S. 1933), which would enact visa and banking bans on the most serious human rights violators around the world. China’s Communist Party would be a prime target of this new bill. Chinese officials responsible for the persecution of the Falun Gong, Uighurs, and Tibetans, and for the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989, for starters, have turned up in the United States, sometimes even on visits to the U.S. Capitol.
The Cardin-McCain bill was inspired by the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act (Public Law 112-208), a Russia-specific law enacted in December 2012, and named after a lawyer who died of abuse in jail after he exposed a massive tax fraud. In December 2013, the Obama administration decided, without explanation, that it would not, for the time being, add names to a list compiled last April of individuals responsible for “gross” human rights abuses against Russians and who are now barred from traveling to the United States or using American financial institutions. That list included 18 mostly low- and mid-level officials associated with Mr. Magnitsky’s persecution and death. Two others are Chechens thought to be linked to political assassinations. Reportedly, a classified list included Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
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Extending the reach of the 2012 Magnitsky Act, US Senators have introduced a new bill that aims to block human rights abusers from any country, not just Russia, from entering the United States and using its financial institutions, reports RIA Novosti.
The Magnitsky Act, which was signed by US President Barack Obama in December 2012, places visa and financial bans on individuals linked to the 2009 death of Russian lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.
After Magnitsky uncovered and reported a US$230 million tax fraud to Russian authorities, he ended up in prison, charged with having committed the very fraud he reported. He later died in prison.
The newly introduced Global Human Rights Accountability Act expands upon the Magnitsky Act by targeting not only Russian officials but also “human rights abusers from anywhere in the world,” denying them entry into the US and banning them from using American financial institutions.
According to Senator Ben Cardin, who co-introduced the bill with Senator John McCain, the act ensures that “Gross violators of human rights from Zimbabwe to Ukraine, and Honduras to Papua New Guinea, are put on notice that they cannot escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to act.”
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This week, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a new bill, S.1933 (the Global Human Rights Accountability Act), that would extend across the world the targeted visa and financial sanctions on human rights abusers established by the Magnitsky Act. That law, passed in 2012, bans Russian officials who engage in gross human rights violations from traveling to and keeping assets in the United States. The new bill would extend these sanctions beyond Russia to human rights abusers in every country.
“Visiting the United States and having access to our financial system, including US dollars, are privileges that should not be extended to those who violate basic human rights and the rule of law,” Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland and author of the original Magnitsky Act, said in introducing S.1933. “Gross violators of human rights from Zimbabwe to Ukraine, and Honduras to Papua New Guinea, are put on notice that they cannot escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to act.” “Standing up for the rule of law and establishing clear consequences for abuses of fundamental human rights serves our nation’s interests and reflects our deepest values,” added Senator John McCain, the Republican cosponsor of both measures.
The extension of sanctions makes perfect sense—human rights are universal, and so should be the accountability for their abuses. No doubt, S.1933 will enjoy broad bipartisan support in Congress—just like the Magnitsky Act, which passed the House of Representatives by 365–43, and the Senate by 92–4, almost unthinkable numbers in the current political environment in Washington.
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U.S. Senators Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and John McCain, R-Ariz., all members of the Foreign Relations Committee, today requested the Obama administration add individuals to a U.S. government list of Russian human rights abusers who are subject to U.S. sanctions and travel restrictions. Enacted in 2012, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act, requires the U.S. government to maintain a list of individuals involved in human rights violations committed in Russia. Despite reports indicating the administration would make additions to the list at the end of 2013, the annual report on enforcement of the act that was sent to Congress in December contained no new names.
“On December 20, 2013, we received the Department of State’s first annual report. Disappointingly and contrary to repeated assurances and expectations, this report indicates that no persons have been added to the Magnitsky list since April 2013 and does not provide adequate details on the administration’s efforts to encourage other governments to impose similar targeted sanctions,” said the senators in their request of Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. “We look forward to your response to our request and hope you will also clarify when we can expect additional names to be added to the Magnitsky list as well as specific administration efforts to encourage other governments to adopt legislation similar to the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.”