U.S. gets serious on Russian mega-corruption case

Trust Law

One of Russia’s most notorious scandals, the death in prison of hedge fund lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, is taking on an international political dimension. The United States has become the first country to impose a visa ban on Russian officials accused of complicity in the affair, which threatens to sour U.S.-Russia relations. But Russia’s conspicuous failure to investigate this crucial case means the West is right to act.

No case better illustrates the pervasive nature of Russian corruption — and the Kremlin’s woeful failure to tackle it. A lawyer for London-based Hermitage Capital, managed by the well-known investor William Browder, Magnitsky was arrested after he had accused Russian officials of involvement in a $230 million tax fraud. His subsequent death in prison naturally caused a global stink. But the subsequent cover-up was even more shocking and revealing. Russia’s inability to pursue the real culprits seems to indicate that its entire law enforcement system is rotten to the core.

That is clearly a huge problem for Russia, but it is also an international concern. And not only because Magnitsky worked for an American law firm, while his client Hermitage was once the largest foreign portfolio investor in the Russia. As subsequent evidence unearthed by Hermitage has revealed, the stolen tax money was quickly laundered offshore. Moreover, the fraud in question was just one of several similar schemes. Western governments are entitled to expect Russia to act decisively against exported corruption, which threatens to pollute their own financial systems.

The action by the U.S. State Department is a response to pressure from Congress, which is debating a law that would ban 60 Russian officials implicated in the affair from entering the United States. The U.S. government has misgivings about the bill, fearing it will complicate co-operation with Russia over matters such as North Korea and Iran. But at least it is beginning to take measures of its own.

What further steps the United States and other countries take should depend on Russia’s own actions. Recently, there have been tentative signs that the Kremlin is taking the Magnitsky case more seriously — or at least pretending to do so in response to the international outrage. But Russia still shows little sign of bringing those ultimately responsible to justice. Until it does, the West should keep up the pressure.


— In a memo sent to Congress, the U.S. presidential administration said that “Secretary Clinton has taken steps to ban individuals associated with the wrongful death of Sergey Magnitsky from traveling to the United States.” The memo refers to “multiple individuals”, but did not state which ones were affected. It expresses the U.S. administration’s reservations about a Congressional bill, the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011”, that would impose visa sanctions on 60 named Russian officials, including senior police, prosecutors and officers of the Federal Security Service. The memo warns the legislation “could have foreign policy implications that could hurt our international sanctions efforts on countries like Iran, North Korea and Libya, and jeopardize other areas of cooperation including transit to Afghanistan”.

— The Dutch parliament voted unanimously on July 4 for a non-binding resolution imposing visa and economic sanctions against 60 Russian officials implicated in the Magnitsky case. The Dutch foreign ministry said the country would not act on the request but would “continue to encourage the Russian Federation to trace the perpetrators responsible”.

— In a report published on July 5, a human rights council appointed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev heavily criticised the investigation into the November 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky. The report accused police officials working on the case of conflicts of interest, and noted the failure to investigate corruption allegations made against police and tax officials connected with the case. The report also said that Magnitsky may have been beaten to death. On July 4, Russia’s top investigative body had launched a criminal investigation into two prison doctors, which human rights activists said was “positive but not sufficient”. hairy woman unshaven girl female wrestling https://zp-pdl.com/get-a-next-business-day-payday-loan.php https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php займы онлайн на карту срочно

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