Russian officials: Banned by the US, on holiday in the EU

EU Observer

Russian officials banned from entering the US on accusations of corruption and conspiracy to murder are frequent visitors in EU countries, leaked information shows.

Pavel Karpov, a senior investigator in the Russian interior ministry, Artem Kuznetsov from the ministry’s economic crimes unit, and Olga Stepanova, a director in the Moscow tax authority, feature on a list of 18 persona non grata published by the US state department on 12 April.

All 18 were banned for their roles in an affair involving embezzlement of Russian tax money and the death of the man who exposed them – Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky.

But Karpov, Kuznetsov and Stepanova stand out as leading protagonists.

Karpov and Kuznetsov organised the seizure of corporate seals and documents from Magnitsky’s former employer, British investment firm Hermitage Capital, used to expedite the fraud.

Kuznetsov also organised Magnitsky’s arrest and pre-trial detention, in which he died.

Meanwhile, Stepanova authorised a tax refund of $153 million, which flowed into the private bank of Dmitry Kluyev, a convicted criminal, who went on to launder the money in six EU jurisdictions and in Switzerland.

Karpov, Kuznetsov and Stepanova earn modest salaries.

But since the events – which took place between 2007 and 2009 – they have bought luxury homes, cars and other assets worth over $42 million.

For its part, the European Parliament has three times urged EU countries to create a US-type Magnitsky list.

Magnitsky’s mother, Natalia Magnitskaya, also told EUobserver at a meeting in London last year that while the US decision has symbolic value, only an EU ban would have real bite.

“They are more scared of this because they do not really travel to the US so much, but they do travel to Europe,” she said.

Documents leaked from the Russian border control service – seen by EUobserver and by the BBC – back up her statement.

The records show that since 2004, Karpov took just two trips to the US: he flew to Washington on 23 September 2006 and he flew to New York on 1 October the same year.

But he visited EU member states 17 times.

In 2006, he went on three short trips – to Larnaca and to Paphos in Cyprus and to London. In 2007, he dropped into Larnaca, London and to the Italian city of Milan. In 2008, he was in Rome and in Vienna. In 2009, he went to Madrid. In 2010, he flew to Frankfurt in Germany and to London.

Last year, he was in Europe even more often.

He went to Paris in May. He went to Verona, Italy, for a week in July/August. He flew to Rome on 17 November and three days after he got home he went on a four-day trip to the German city of Munich.

Kuznetsov and Stepanova did not visit the US even once.

But they have also been going in and out of the EU.

Kuznetsov went to London in 2006. He was in Larnaca once, in Rome twice and in Paris twice the following year. In 2008, he went to Rome again, while in 2009 he spent some three weeks in Milan in May.

Stepanova was in Rome in December 2004. She spent a week in the French resort town of Nice in April 2005. She was in Milan in January 2006. She went to Paris with her then husband, Vladlen Stepanov, in April the same year. The couple also spent five days in Paris in April 2007, a week in Larnaca in May the same year and 10 days in Paris in March 2008.

Kluyev himself – the alleged mastermind of the scam – visited the EU at least 51 times.

The Russian officials and the convicted fraudster sometimes travelled together.

Kluyev and Karpov went to Larnaca in 2006 and 2007. Kluyev also joined the Stepanovs in Paris on their visit in April 2006.

Despite the EU parliament’s appeals, the European External Action Service (EEAS), which has formal powers to propose sanctions, shows no sign of taking action.

EU institutions even find it hard to stick to the same line.

Ahead of the EU-Russia summit last week, an EU source first told press in Brussels that Magnitsky is an “internal” matter for Russia. But EEAS chief Catherine Ashton later backtracked and voiced concerns about the case in Russian media.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, for his part, urged Russian authorities to carry out a thorough investigation.

But Russia shut down the investigation already in January, finding no one guilty.

The EU parliament is now trying a new hook.

Forty seven MEPs last week sent a letter to EU foreign ministers saying they will use parliament’s power to veto a proposed EU-Russia visa facilitation pact unless the EEAS takes action.

But the parliament’s position is also wobbly.

It is unclear whether MEPs want a US-model ban on the 18 officials, on the 18 plus others such as Kluyev, or on up to 60 officials named on a separate list by US senator Ben Cardin.

It is also unclear how they plan to wield their veto on the visa pact.

An EU parliament source said the veto threat might be used to make sure NGO leaders and students get visa-free access to the EU instead of pushing for a Magnitsky ban.

MEPs are also considering a commission idea to let Russian officials or “service passport” holders enter the EU without a visa, but to make sure the new perk does not apply to the Magnitsky-tainted names. займ на карту онлайн займы на карту срочно https://zp-pdl.com/apply-for-payday-loan-online.php https://zp-pdl.com срочный займ

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2 Responses to “Russian officials: Banned by the US, on holiday in the EU”

  1. Dawn says:

    My observation is that the EU doesn’t care if tourist sales generated comes in the the form of blood money.We Americans only like green money.

  2. Dawn says:

    NATO is divided! Too many member countries no longer share the same values. The US was founded under the belief that no people should live lives of oppression.Originally NATO held to that belief, too. Too many NATO nations no longer care about the oppressed. Their refusal to take a stand against oppression will lead to their own oppression by Russia.

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