‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ pursues case linked to death of Russian lawyer

Daily Telegraph

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.

Within a year, in November 2009, he was dead in a prison cell at the age of 37, after being denied medical treatment for chronic pancreatitis and beaten with rubber truncheons instead. His case had not even gone to trial, and yet he was barred from seeing his family from the moment he was locked up.
Magnitsky’s plight has become a symbol to the world of Russia’s entrenched corruption, sparking a major diplomatic row with the US, and becoming a national embarrassment.

In July this year, Magnitsky was convicted posthumously of committing the very crime he uncovered as Russia deliberately set its face against the rest of the world. It was one of the few trials of a dead person since Joan of Arc in the 15th century.

A documentary film and a play have been made about his experience, and yet the police he identified have been promoted. One officer may even be having his current libel case in the UK courts against Hermitage founder Bill Browder, who is spearheading the campaign for justice, funded by the Kremlin.

It was this year that the case really became a cause celebre. In April, the US barred 18 Russians linked to the fraud or Magnitsky’s death – including state officials – from entering the country under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. In retaliation, Moscow banned Americans from adopting Russian orphans.

Bharara’s case is an escalation in the battle – an attempt to hit the criminals where it hurts. In the wallet. Since Magnitsky’s death, and because the Russian authorities want to sweep the crime under the carpet, Hermitage has turned its efforts to hunting down those involved.

To date, it has traced $135m of the $230m of stolen funds, Browder, who lives in London, claims.
Following the money has been an epic task. Bharara’s case document shows why. The alleged criminals went to great lengths to conceal their “loot”, transferring it through numerous bank accounts and shell companies in a variety of countries, including Britain, all the while mixing it with other funds.

It culminated in “the purchase of Manhattan real estate with funds commingled with fraud proceeds”, the court documents said.

After several transfers within Russia to a variety of accounts at various Russian banks, the money first began to move offshore in February 2008 – about three months after the crime was committed.

Initially, the money was transferred out of Russia’s Bank Krainiy Sever into a couple of accounts at a Moldovan bank belonging to two Moldovan companies.

Later on the day of the transfer, a Russian court ordered all Krainiy accounts be seized. And, within a month, Russia’s central bank had revoked Krainiy’s licence for money laundering violations. It was fortuitous timing for the criminal syndicate.

The Moldovan companies, one of which was nominally administrated by a 24-year old and registered to a house in the commercial capital, Chisinau, then transferred about $857,000 to the UBS accounts belonging to Prevezon, a Cyprus-based real estate company.

Prevezon was at the time owned by a 22-year Russian science graduate Timofey Krit. Krit allegedly mingled the “loot” with existing funds and transferred Eu3m to Dutch property group AFI Europe to invest in real estate.

On June 19, 2008, Krit sold his entire stake in Prevezon to another young man, Denis Katsyv, for just $50,000. According to the court documents, Prevezon’s UBS accounts had “over $2m in assets” at the time. Prevezon then made the $24m of New York property purchases when Katsyv was sole shareholder.

Katsyv, the son of a former Moscow transport minister, has said he knew nothing about the transfers and has insisted that neither he nor his family have benefited from the Magnitsky fraud.

However, the court documents raise questions about Katsyv’s claims. To be clear, neither Katsyv nor Krit is a defendant. Bharara’s charges have been brought specifically against the Prevezon companies rather than any individuals.

For Bharara, this case is not just professional, but personal. As part of the Kremlin’s retaliation against the Magnitsky list, Russia drew up its own blacklist of barred US individuals. Bharara was on it.
He was targeted for supposedly violating the rights of Russian citizens abroad. Only, the Russian citizen whose rights he violated was Viktor Bout, a notorious, post-Soviet arms dealer who was the model for Nicolas Cage’s character in the 2005 movie Lord of War.

Bout was trapped in a sting operation by the US authorities in Thailand in 2008. It took two years to have him extradited, and when he finally faced trial in the US, Bharara was the prosecutor. Bout is now in a maximum security prison in Illinois.

Bharara’s case against Prevezon and the criminal gang was only possible because Hermitage has tracked down much of the money. But following the money trail in turn was only possible because one of the criminal syndicate’s associates turned informant.

Alexander Perepilichny was working for one of the tax officials that authorised part of the original $230m fraudulent refund from the state. He was a financier, but lost a fortune of his clients’ money in the financial crash. The tax official and her husband went after him, and he fled, vowing revenge.

Perepilichny came to the UK, where he handed over vital bank details to Hermitage. It was the breakthrough they needed. With Perepilichny holed up in Surrey, Hermitage made rapid headway.

Until, inexplicably one November day last year, Perepilichny died while out jogging near his Weybridge estate. The police did toxicology tests on the body, but eventually ruled out foul play.

Perepilichny’s revelations, though, were enough for Hermitage to give the authorities in Switzerland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Cyprus, and Moldova reason to freeze bank accounts or launch criminal investigations. Bharara’s case now adds the US to the list.

One notable omission from those countries investigating suspicions of money-laundering is the UK. Hermitage has provided evidence that Nomirex, a Birmingham-registered company whose sole director was a yoga teacher in Cyprus, received $726,000 of allegedly stolen funds, according to Bharara’s filings. Britain, though, apparently wants to turn a blind eye.

Even so, Browder has promised not to stop until he has secured some kind of justice for Magnitsky. And if Russia is the new Wild West, he’ll be glad to have a sheriff on side. займы без отказа hairy woman https://zp-pdl.com/how-to-get-fast-payday-loan-online.php https://zp-pdl.com/emergency-payday-loans.php hairy girl

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