Posts Tagged ‘International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’

April 2013

Caribbean go-between provided shelter for far-away frauds

Mail & Guardian

The tangled trail of the Magnitsky Affair, a case that’s strained US-Russian relations and blocked American adoptions of Russian orphans, snakes through an offshore haven in the Caribbean.

The death of Moscow tax attorney Sergei Magnitsky sparked international outrage. It also fueled a push to unravel secret deals that had prompted him to claim that gangsters and government insiders had stolen $230-million from Russia’s treasury.

Magnitsky and other private attorneys investigating the affair on behalf of a major hedge fund followed a path from Russia to bank accounts in Switzerland and luxury properties in Dubai – ending up at a small firm based in the British Virgin Islands that specialises in setting up offshore companies for clients who want to remain in the shadows.

This is the story of behind-the-scenes players in the Magnitsky affair – and the tale of how an offshore go-between provided shelter to fraudsters, money launderers and other shady characters from Russia, Eastern Europe and the United States.

In early 2008 , lawyers working for a London-based hedge fund scrambled to prove that their client had been the victim of a corporate heist.

A gang of mobsters, the lawyers believed, had quietly transferred ownership of three Russian businesses belonging to the hedge fund to a secrecy-cloaked company in the Caribbean.

The offshore company had been established by Commonwealth Trust Limited, a firm in the British Virgin Islands that sets up overseas companies and trusts for clients around the world.

Lawyers for the hedge fund’s owner, Hermitage Capital Management Limited, contacted CTL and demanded answers.

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