Russian suspects in Sergei Magnitsky death barred from entry to UK

The Guardian

Tory MP calls for legislation against Russians accused of involvement in tax fraud whistleblower’s death in prison.

Sixty Russians accused of involvement in the torture and death of the tax fraud whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky have been banned from entering the UK.

Magnitsky died in a Russian prison in 2009, a year after being arrested following his conclusion of a corruption investigation that pointed the finger at a host of low-level Russian officials. A report by the Kremlin’s human rights commission found signs that the 37-year-old lawyer had been beaten.

The US passed a bill last year blocking people related to the Magnitsky case from entering the country and blocking their assets, and the European parliament has called for member states to follow suit. It has now emerged that the government has banned people identified on a US list from entering the UK.

The ban was revealed in a previously unreported response to a written question from the Conservative MP Dominic Raab, who asked whether “any of the 60 individuals named on the list published by the Commission on Security and Co-operation in Europe … have visited the UK in the last year”.

The immigration minister Mark Harper replied in April: “The Home Office special cases directorate is already aware of the individuals on the list and has taken the necessary measures to prevent them being issued visas for travel to the UK.”

Raab said the ban should provide the impetus for legislation in the UK. “We should take a lead in passing a UK Magnitsky Act to prevent Britain becoming a safe haven for the henchmen of [Vladimir] Putin’s rotten regime,” he said.

Magnitsky, an auditor and lawyer at the Moscow law firm Firestone Duncan, was hired by William Browder, head of Hermitage Capital Management, to investigate after security forces raided Hermitage’s Moscow offices and accused it of underpaying taxes.

Instead of uncovering wrongdoing at Hermitage, Magnitsky found that a ring of police officers and tax inspectors had taken their tax payments and kept them for themselves, to the tune of $230m (£150m).

Browder welcomed the UK move but said more needed to be done. “If you look at the reality of the situation, more corrupt Russian officials travel to and keep their assets in the UK than the US, so what Britain decides to do in this case has much more significance than any other country,” he told the Guardian.

“There’s absolutely a need for legislation. What’s more powerful than visa bans is asset freezes. At the end of the day these crimes were committed for money. The people who committed these crimes want to keep their money safe in the west. The main deterrent is that their money will be suspended or frozen in the west. There should be a robust policy in the UK of visa bans and asset freezes against human rights abusers from Russia.”

Magnitsky is being tried posthumously, in the first ever case against a dead person in Russia, on charges of tax fraud that his friends and family say are fabricated. His co-defendant is Browder, who is being tried in absentia and said he expected guilty verdicts to be delivered on Thursday.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Henry Jackson Society suggests that 72% of the public would support a Magnitsky Act.

However, the UK could face retaliation for banning the Russians. When the US passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act the Kremlin responded by banning Russian adoptions to the US. payday loan buy viagra online https://zp-pdl.com/emergency-payday-loans.php www.zp-pdl.com hairy girl

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