British aristocrat linked to Sergei Magnitsky case

Daily Telegraph

A British aristocrat has been linked to the suspected laundering of the fraudulent gains of Russian criminals involved in the death of anti-corruption campaigner, Sergei Magnitsky.

Andrew Moray Stuart, heir to the Viscountcy of Stuart of Findhorn, has been named alongside other Britons in a legal complaint filed with the City of London police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Lawyers for Hermitage Capital Management, the UK hedge fund whose Moscow lawyer – Mr Magnitsky – uncovered the alleged $230m (£140m) fraud, have called for a formal investigation by the economic crimes department into alleged money laundering.

Mr Stuart, who lives in Mauritius and Dubai but is named as a director of more than 500 UK companies, is alleged to have transferred about $1.4m through a British Virgin Islands’ shell operation on behalf of Vladlen Stepanov, the husband of a senior tax official at the centre of the alleged fraud.

The Swiss bank account of the BVI company has since been frozen as part of an investigation by the Swiss authorities into money laundering allegations triggered by Hermitage’s findings. Mr Stuart was the sole director of the BVI company, Aikate Properties, whose owner was Mr Stepanov. Aikate was dissolved in 2010.

Hermitage claims to have identified assets owned by Mr Stepanov and his wife Olga Stepanova worth almost $40m – including a villa on Dubai’s Palm Island and another in Montenegro – yet they have declared, as required under Russian law, a combined annual income of less than $50,000.

Mr Stuart, 54, is the grandson of former Tory MP James Stuart, who was awarded the title after stepping down from the House of Commons in 1959. The family is also descended from the Earl of Moray and its motto is Salus Per Christum Redemptorem, or “Salvation through Christ the Redeemer”.

Hermitage’s complaint to the City police and SOCA alleges that “Mr Stuart provided services which facilitated money laundering and frauds”. There is no evidence that he knew of the money’s origins or the alleged purpose of the transactions.

The death of Mr Magnitsky, and Hermitage’s efforts to have those responsible brought to justice, have resulted in major diplomatic tensions with Russia. The US has barred 60 individuals linked to Mr Magnitsky’s death from entering the country, including Mrs Stepanova and a number of senior Russian state figures.

The Dutch parliament has voted for a similar ban, the Swiss authorities have frozen the assets of a number of the Russian individuals, and UK backbenchers earlier this year approved a motion to bar entry to the group and have their UK assets frozen. David Cameron has also said he was “deeply concerned” about Mr Magnitsky’s death.

In Russia, plays have been performed about Mr Magnitsky, who has become a symbol of struggle against corruption. Mr Magnitsky died after uncovering a huge tax rebate fraud in 2007.
He found that a criminal gang, aided by the police and tax officials, had seized Hermitage’s Russian subsidiaries and created false claims to obtain a court decision that would allow all $230m of tax the hedge fund had paid to be rebated.

Mrs Stepanova was head of one of the tax offices and personally approved the multi-million dollar rebate within a day of the application.

Mr Magnitsky testified against the police and was later charged by the same officers of tax evasion. He was jailed for a year and died in prison after being refused medical attention and beaten instead. The Kremlin’s own human rights council found that his death was the result of “calculated, deliberate and inhumane neglect”.

However, Russian authorities have tried to close the case by jailing a sawmill foreman for the complex fraud and launching a highly unusual posthumous tax investigation into Mr Magnitsky.

Hermitage’s complaint also named Stephen John Kelly, a British citizen who like Mr Stuart has homes in Mauritius and Dubai, and the UK based GSL Law & Consulting, although there is no suggestion any of them were complicit in any illegal activity.

Mr Stuart, Mr Kelly and GSL did not respond to questions about the allegations. payday loan займы на карту https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php https://zp-pdl.com/apply-for-payday-loan-online.php займ на карту онлайн

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