Former New York Prosecutor Faces Confidentiality Breach Hearing

Wall Street Journal

John Moscow, a prominent former New York prosecutor, faces a hearing this week on whether he breached a prior client’s confidentiality when he began defending companies belonging to a Russian accused of buying Manhattan properties with the proceeds of a $230 million tax fraud.

Mr. Moscow is defending companies owned by Denis Katsyv that prosecutors allege funneled laundered money to buy the properties. Mr. Moscow was previously hired as an outside lawyer for London-based hedge-fund manager William Browder, a witness in the U.S. government case against Mr. Katsyv’s companies.

A New York judge will consider at a hearing Thursday whether Mr. Moscow and his law firm, Baker & Hostetler LLP, have information that will give them an advantage in questioning Mr. Browder.

“Our law firm concluded we had no conflict of interest; and our role as counsel is to insist the government prove its case,” Mark Cymrot, a BakerHostetler partner, told The Wall Street Journal.

The stakes are high, according to Lara Bazelon, visiting professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and co-chair of an American Bar Association ethics committee.

“If the judge finds that Mr. Moscow relied upon information that he learned as a matter of confidence from a past client, that would be a violation of the duty of confidentiality,” Ms. Bazelon said. “That would be a very strong finding, particularly against someone so high-profile and well-respected.”

Mr. Moscow spent three decades at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, serving as chief of the fraud bureau and deputy chief of the investigations division. He led the investigation of money laundering and fraud at the Bank of Credit and Commerce International in the 1990s.

Mr. Cymrot said the conflict of interest hearing is an attempt by Mr. Browder to smear the reputation of one of the world’s most renowned anti-money-laundering attorneys and have him removed from the case.

BakerHostetler’s client has issued “abusive” subpoenas “to try to harass and intimidate” Mr. Browder, said Randy Mastro, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, which is representing the hedge-fund manager.

The legal dispute is unfolding against the backdrop of stiff U.S. sanctions against a list of Russian individuals and companies in response to Russia’s role in the conflict in Ukraine. If Mr. Katsyv loses the case, the U.S. government could impose sanctions on him and his businesses under the Magnitsky Act, which bars those who benefited from the Russian tax fraud from entering the U.S. or using its banks.

Losing the court case “would seem to give reasonable grounds to be added to the list,” of sanctioned Russians, said David Kramer, a former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor who now leads Freedom House, which campaigns for civil liberties.

Using documents provided by Mr. Browder and his company, Hermitage Capital, the U.S. government alleges in a civil forfeiture case that it has traced $857,354 from the Russian treasury to Mr. Katsyv’s Prevezon Holdings. Mr. Katsyv and Prevezon deny the allegations, Mr. Cymrot said.

Mr. Browder, a former U.S. citizen who carries a British passport and lives in London, is the founder of Hermitage Capital, a successful early investor in postcommunist Russian companies in the 1990s. But in 2007, Russian authorities seized documents from Hermitage’s Moscow office in raids. Mr. Browder’s Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, then exposed a tax fraud involving government officials.

Mr. Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 by the Russian officials he accused and he was charged with committing the tax fraud. He was denied medical help in prison and was handcuffed and beaten while in custody, his family has said. He died in prison in 2009. Prison officials have denied mistreating him.

Since then, Mr. Browder has campaigned to bring those responsible for his death to justice. In 2012, he helped persuade U.S. lawmakers to pass the Magnitsky Act, which is named after his dead lawyer.

Mr. Moscow started working for Hermitage in 2008, helping to trace “the proceeds of the massive tax fraud,” Mr. Browder’s current lawyers wrote in a Sept. 12 court document.

BakerHostetler said Mr. Moscow was retained specifically to obtain subpoenas for documents regarding “a company that has no relationship to the $230 million fraud.”

Mr. Cymrot said BakerHostetler is “obligated” to seek Mr. Browder’s testimony because the U.S. government has identified him as “the primary source of information for the allegations against our clients.”

Mr. Browder, though, said that subpoenas served on him by BakerHostetler are based on “confidences shared” previously with Mr. Moscow. The subpoenas are designed to “impeach” Mr. Browder and to “expose him to physical and financial harm,” according to a motion to quash the subpoenas filed Sept. 12 by Mr. Browder’s law firm, Gibson Dunn.

The former hedge fund manager has received threatening emails and text messages such as, “What’s worse: Prison or death?” the filing said.

According to that filing, “two unknown, unidentified, and hostile people” approached Mr. Browder and his son in Aspen, Colorado in July, “yelling his name and snapping photos,” before they threw a subpoena on the windshield of his car.

Mr. Browder has cooperated with U.S. authorities and is willing to provide sworn testimony in the case, said Mr. Mastro at Gibson Dunn. However, “Browder faces real and substantial security concerns,” he added.

In August, the Committee on Grievances of the Southern District of New York rejected a conflict-of-interest complaint by Mr. Browder against Mr. Moscow. The committee’s decision left open the option for Mr. Browder to request a further hearing into the matter from Judge Griesa. In a court filing Wednesday, Judge Griesa said that Thursday’s hearing will discuss whether Mr. Moscow and his firm should be disqualified from representing the defendants because they had access to privileged information. микрозаймы онлайн hairy woman https://zp-pdl.com/how-to-get-fast-payday-loan-online.php https://zp-pdl.com/get-quick-online-payday-loan-now.php hairy women

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