Posts Tagged ‘US’
Preet Bharara is the new “Sheriff of Wall Street”. The US district attorney for the southern district of New York has taken down 60 insider dealers, including former McKinsey boss Rajat Gupta and Raj Rajaratnam over the Galleon scandal.
Currently, he has SAC Capital in his sights. He’s charged the giant hedge fund itself with allowing insider trading. Not for nothing has he inherited the populist monicker last claimed by Eliot Spitzer during his post-dotcom crackdown on white-collar crime.
Bharara even claims to eat “raw meat” for breakfast. If true, he’ll need it.
His latest target is far from white collar. Bharara is going after the Russian mafia – an organised crime group whose tentacles stretch throughout the state and, apparently, right into the Kremlin. At least two people connected to the crimes he’s pursuing have died in suspicious circumstances.
Last week, Bharara froze $24m (£15m) of property assets in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including “four luxury residential units and two high-end commercial spaces”, on charges of money-laundering. One 35-storey block boasts a pool, roof terrace, Turkish bath and indoor golf.
“As alleged, a Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate,” he said. “While New York is a world financial capital, it is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to hide their loot.”
If the court upholds the “civil forfeiture” complaint, the government will seize the assets.
Bharara’s case is the latest instalment in the tragic saga of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who uncovered a $230m tax refund fraud against the Russian people in 2007 while working for UK-based hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management.
Magnitsky blew the whistle hard. He named police officers involved in the crime group, identified tax officials who authorised the illegal payments and had begun tracking the money when he was thrown in jail on trumped-up tax-evasion charges in late 2008. (more…)
U.S. prosecutors are trying to seize millions of dollars in ritzy New York City real estate they say are laundered rubles linked to the death of Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Federal prosecutors last week sought the forfeiture of $24 million worth of Manhattan real estate they say was purchased in part with funds connected to the notorious theft of $230 million from Russia’s Treasury in 2007. The crime assumed international importance later when lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in the custody of Russian police he’d accused of complicity in the theft. Magnitsky was representing a Western-backed hedge fund that was victimized in the massive tax fraud.
“A Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement. “While New York is a world financial capital, it is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to hide their loot.” An order freezing the properties and related bank accounts was signed on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa.
The government’s civil complaint is the first U.S. law-enforcement response to the 2007 seizure of the Russian subsidiaries of Hermitage Capital, once the largest foreign investor in Russia. The complaint states that back then criminals stole the corporate identities of the money manager and used them to falsely claim the refund of $230 million for taxes that Hermitage had paid in prior years. When Moscow attorney Magnitsky presented evidence that he believed showed the involvement of police and tax officials, the complaint continues, he was arrested and died in prison a year later under suspicious circumstances. Barron’s reported on the case in detail in “Crime and Punishment in Putin’s Russia,” in our edition of April 18, 2011. (more…)
The U.S. Justice Department has filed civil suits against 11 companies involved with Russian officials on the Magnitsky list, alleging that they used luxury New York real estate to launder $230 million in illegally begotten funds.
The action is “a significant step towards uncovering and unwinding a complex money laundering scheme,” Preet Bharara, a U.S. district attorney in New York, said in a statement.
Officials are accused of using an American subsidiary of the Cyprus-based company Prevezon Holdings, owned by former Transportation Minister Peter Katsyv’s son Denis, and other intermediaries to hide billions of rubles stolen from the Russian treasury.
Denis Katysv’s lawyer said that her client was surprised by the accusations because he bought the company six months after the alleged money laundering took place, Kommersant reported.
The complaint says the companies purchased high-end Manhattan condos with money that had been funneled to them in an elaborate tax fraud scheme that involved sham lawsuits against the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management.
A lawyer for the fund, Sergei Magnitsky, accused Russian government officials of masterminding the fraud scheme, but was arrested and later charged with the same crimes he had reported to the authorities and died after a beating in detention. (more…)
As Putin Edges Out Obama In Syria Crisis, US Moves To Seize $230 Million From Alleged Russian Fraudsters
The Russia-U.S. relationship is the focus of a lot of attention this week, with President Vladimir Putin widely perceived to have out-maneuvered President Barack Obama and winning respect from unlikely corners.
Syria, however, is not the only issue between Russia and the U.S. at the moment.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced Tuesday that authorities are seeking to seize luxury apartments and other property said to be used to launder funds by Russian criminal networks.
According to a 63-page lawsuit, Cyprus-based company Prevezon Holdings Ltd. and its New York affiliates must hand over more than $230 million for trying to launder tax fraud money with the purchase of real estate in the U.S. — notably the Alexander Condominium building at 250 East 49th street.
The case relates specifically to the notorious case of Sergei Magnitsky, the Moscow-based lawyer who was imprisoned and died mysteriously in jail after calling attention to an alleged Russian tax fraud scheme.
Magnitsky had been working for Hermitage Capital, a fund managed by American Bill Browder. After Hermitage’s Moscow offices were raided in 2007, Magnitsky began investigating and later testified that he had uncovered a huge scam by top police officials to embezzle $230 million in taxes from money that Hermitage Fund companies had paid in 2006. (more…)
U.S. prosecutors seeks to seize high-end real estate they claim was bought with proceeds from a $230 million tax fraud allegedly committed by corrupt Russian officials
– The prosecutors allege the scheme took control of entities owned by U.S.-born investment fund manager Wiliam Browder
– Critics say the suit is emblematic of the Kremlin’s abuse of the legal process and has sparked tensions between the U.S. and Russia
U.S. prosecutors said Tuesday that they’re seeking to seize several luxury apartments and other high-end commercial spaces in New York that they claim were purchased with proceeds from a $230 million tax fraud allegedly committed by corrupt Russian officials.
Prosecutors said the fraud was allegedly uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow prison in 2009 under suspicious circumstances. Mr. Magnitsky, before his death at age 37, claimed Russian police and security officials took control of entities owned by his client, U.S.-born fund manager William Browder, and defrauded the Russian government of hundreds of millions dollars in tax refunds. Mr. Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 after he provided testimony about the alleged fraud.
In July, a Russian court sentenced Mr. Browder without him being present in court to nine years in prison for tax evasion and returned a guilty verdict against Mr. Magnitsky, despite his death, on similar charges. Mr. Browder is a U.K. citizen living in London.
Critics of the Russian government have said the case is symbolic of the Kremlin’s abuse of the legal process and it has fueled tensions with the U.S., leading to a series of tit-for-tat recriminations between the nations. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials have denied allegations of judicial abuses in the case.
In a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday, U.S. prosecutors alleged that a criminal organization, including officials at two Russian tax offices, corruptly sought tax refunds in the amount of 5.4 billion rubles, or about $230 million, on behalf of companies associated with Mr. Browder’s Hermitage Capital Management. (more…)
U.S. authorities are looking to seize luxury apartments and other property they say Russian companies used to launder proceeds from a $230 million tax fraud.
The scheme was uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a Russian jail, U.S. prosecutors said in a civil complaint filed in New York on Tuesday.
According to the complaint, the organization stole corporate identities belonging to the Hermitage Fund, an investment fund operating in Russia, and used them to make fraudulent claims for tax refunds.
“As alleged, a Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The organization included officials at two Russian tax offices, Olga Stepanova and Yelena Khimina, who approved the refunds of approximately $230 million, according to the complaint. Stepanova and Khimina could not be immediately reached for comment. (more…)
A New York district prosecutor has frozen more than $20m of Manhattan property assets following allegations they were used to launder money for Russian criminals linked to a $230m fraud uncovered by dead whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.
Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has filed a “civil forfeiture” complaint against nine companies that own $24m (£15m) of real estate, including “four luxury residential units and two high-end commercial spaces”. If the court upholds the complaint, the state would be able to seize the assets.
Mr Bharara said: “As alleged, a Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate. While New York is a world financial capital, it is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to hide their loot, no matter how and where their fraud took place.”
The court case is a major escalation in the ongoing diplomatic war between Russia and the US over Mr Magnitsky’s death and the fraud he uncovered. The former lawyer’s plight has become symbolic of state-backed corruption in Russia. (more…)
US prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking to seize expensive New York properties purportedly purchased with funds stolen from Russian coffers in an alleged scam detailed by whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose 2009 death in a Russian jail has sparked a diplomatic rift between Washington and Moscow.
“As alleged, a Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate,” Preet Bharara, the US District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Tuesday in announcing the civil action.
The properties, including four luxury residences and two upscale commercial spaces, were used to launder some of the $230 million in Russian government money that Magnitsky alleged were embezzled in a tax fraud involving Russian law enforcement and tax officials, Bharara’s office claimed in a complaint filed in US federal court Tuesday.
Prosecutors say a Cyprus-based company, Prevezon Holdings, purchased the properties in a complex attempt to obscure the origins of the money and are seeking to seize the real estate and impose fines as part of the so-called “civil forfeiture” complaint filed Tuesday.
According to a report last year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an international investigative journalism consortium, Prevezon is owned by Denis Katsyv, son of Pyotr Katsyv, an official who oversees the Moscow Region’s cooperation with the Russian federal government.
Denis Katsyv and his spokesman told the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project that he was the owner of Prevezon but denied that he has any connection “with any transactions related to the alleged frauds behind the Magnitsky matter” and that “neither he nor any members of his family” have benefited from the Magnitsky case. (more…)
American officials are seeking to seize $23.7 million in high-end Manhattan real estate they say were purchased with money from a huge fraud exposed by a lawyer who later died in prison.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed a civil forfeiture complaint Monday against properties held by nine offshore companies and the assets of two other companies they say laundered part of the proceeds of a huge Russian tax fraud that caused a rift in U.S.-Russian relations.
“Today’s forfeiture action is a significant step towards uncovering and unwinding a complex money laundering scheme arising from a notorious foreign fraud,” Bharara said in a statement. “A Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate. While New York is a world financial capital, it is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to hide their loot, no matter how and where their fraud took place.”
The complaint says that the real estate was purchased with money traced to a $230 million Russian tax fraud known as the “Magnitsky case” for the whistle-blowing lawyer who uncovered it. Sergei Magnitsky alleged in 2008 that corrupt officials and criminals conspired to steal subsidiaries of his client, Hermitage Capital Management, and claim a $230 million tax refund. He was jailed by the same officials he accused and died in prison a year later, aged 37. A report by Russia’s presidential human rights council in 2011 found that he had been systematically tortured, but President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied there was any criminality in Magnitsky’s death. (more…)