Posts Tagged ‘Katsyv’

23
September 2013

Could U.S. Assets Seizure Lead To Expansion Of Magnitsky Blacklist?

Radio Free Europe

As shady Russian businessmen snapped up luxury apartments in New York City, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was confined to the few square meters of a Moscow jail cell. He would die there under suspicious circumstances in 2009 after revealing a scheme by government officials and associates to steal $230 million from the Russian treasury. U.S. prosecutors say the proceeds of that heist paid for the Manhattan properties.

A complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on September 10 seeks the seizure of the four Wall Street-area apartments as well as two commercial spaces. It also details the twists and turns of the fraud scheme. If approved, the seizure would be the first such move in a case that has already seen bank accounts frozen in several European countries.

But perhaps more significantly, at least for U.S.-Russian relations, the complaint names alleged beneficiaries of the fraud that are not included on the “Magnitsky list,” a U.S. blacklist of Russian officials implicated in the case. It appears, then, to offer a potent argument for those members of the U.S. Congress seeking to expand the list and push back against any hesitation by the administration of President Barack Obama over harm that might cause to ties with Moscow.

Informed congressional sources told RFE/RL that the naming of names in the complaint had “been noted” and could be used to push the administration ahead of an upcoming deadline.

The U.S. legislation establishing travel and financial sanctions in the Magnitsky case requires that the State and Treasury departments add more names to the blacklist “as new information becomes available.” The Obama administration must add names to the list by a December 14 congressional reporting deadline or justify why it hasn’t done so.

The first version of the list, published in April, implicated 16 individuals in connection with the case (plus another two implicated in other crimes). Some U.S. lawmakers had expressed disappointment that more names had not been included. It was enough, however, to elicit rage — and a retaliatory blacklist — from Moscow.

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16
September 2013

From Moscow to Manhattan, the Long Way

Barron’s

U.S. prosecutors are trying to seize millions of dollars in ritzy New York City real estate they say are laundered rubles linked to the death of Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Federal prosecutors last week sought the forfeiture of $24 million worth of Manhattan real estate they say was purchased in part with funds connected to the notorious theft of $230 million from Russia’s Treasury in 2007. The crime assumed international importance later when lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in the custody of Russian police he’d accused of complicity in the theft. Magnitsky was representing a Western-backed hedge fund that was victimized in the massive tax fraud.

“A Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement. “While New York is a world financial capital, it is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to hide their loot.” An order freezing the properties and related bank accounts was signed on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa.

The government’s civil complaint is the first U.S. law-enforcement response to the 2007 seizure of the Russian subsidiaries of Hermitage Capital, once the largest foreign investor in Russia. The complaint states that back then criminals stole the corporate identities of the money manager and used them to falsely claim the refund of $230 million for taxes that Hermitage had paid in prior years. When Moscow attorney Magnitsky presented evidence that he believed showed the involvement of police and tax officials, the complaint continues, he was arrested and died in prison a year later under suspicious circumstances. Barron’s reported on the case in detail in “Crime and Punishment in Putin’s Russia,” in our edition of April 18, 2011.

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12
September 2013

U.S. Seeks Ritzy NY Properties in Russian Money Laundering Case

Barron’s

Federal prosecutors Tuesday sought the forfeiture of $24 million worth of Manhattan real estate they say was purchased in part with funds connected to the notorious theft of $230 million from Russia’s Treasury in 2007. The crime assumed international importance when lawyer Sergei Magnitsky later died in the custody of Russian police he’d accused of complicity in the theft. Magnitsky was representing a Western-backed hedge fund that was victimized in the massive tax fraud.

“A Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement. “While New York is a world financial capital, it is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to hide their loot.”

The government’s complaint is the first U.S. law-enforcement response to the 2007 seizure of the Russian subsidiaries of Hermitage Capital, once the largest foreign investor in Russia. The complaint states that criminals stole the corporate identities of the money manager and used them to falsely claim the refund of $230 million for taxes that Hermitage had paid in prior years. When Moscow attorney Magnitsky presented evidence that he believed showed the involvement of police and tax officials, the complaint continues, Magnitsky was himself arrested and died in prison a year later under suspicious circumstances (as reported in “Crime and Punishment in Putin’s Russia,” Barron’s, April 18, 2011).

The luxury apartments and fancy retail spaces that are subject to Tuesday’s civil forfeiture complaint were discovered last summer by Barron’s as part of a journalism collaboration that included Russia’s Novaya Gayzeta and an Eastern European not-for-profit journalism group known as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. The Manhattan properties are owned by U.S. entities associated with a Cyprus corporation, Prevezon Holding, whose name had turned up in Eastern European bank transfers after the Russian Treasury heist. The forfeiture complaint alleges that these funds were laundered proceeds from the tax scam, and names both the U.S. and Cyprus corporations as defendants.

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11
September 2013

U.S. Seeks Seizure Of Real Estate Connected To Magnitsky Fraud Scheme

Radio Free Europe

U.S. authorities have moved to seize millions of dollars’ worth of Manhattan real estate in what would be the first asset seizure connected to the tax fraud scheme uncovered by Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

A complaint filed on September 10 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said Cyprus-based real estate corporation Prevezon Holdings, owned by Russian Denis Katsyv, was one of the companies that benefited from an elaborate scheme to steal $230 million from Russian state coffers that was later revealed by Magnitsky.

The company and its eight subsidiaries laundered some of the money through the purchase of four luxury condominiums and two commercial spaces in Manhattan, the complaint alleges.

Katsyv has previously said he is innocent of any involvement in the fraud scheme.

The complaint also seeks to seize the assets of two “related companies.”

Magnitsky died in 2009 in pre-trial detention after being repeatedly denied medical care. Supporters say his death was punishment for his whistleblowing.

His case provoked an international outcry and has led to passage of the Magnitsky Act in the United States, which sanctions officials implicated in the lawyer’s case and in other perceived gross human rights violations.

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11
September 2013

U.S. Justice Department Files Suit Against Companies Connected to Magnitsky Affair

Moscow Times

The U.S. Justice Department has filed civil suits against 11 companies involved with Russian officials on the Magnitsky list, alleging that they used luxury New York real estate to launder $230 million in illegally begotten funds.

The action is “a significant step towards uncovering and unwinding a complex money laundering scheme,” Preet Bharara, a U.S. district attorney in New York, said in a statement.

Officials are accused of using an American subsidiary of the Cyprus-based company Prevezon Holdings, owned by former Transportation Minister Peter Katsyv’s son Denis, and other intermediaries to hide billions of rubles stolen from the Russian treasury.

Denis Katysv’s lawyer said that her client was surprised by the accusations because he bought the company six months after the alleged money laundering took place, Kommersant reported.

The complaint says the companies purchased high-end Manhattan condos with money that had been funneled to them in an elaborate tax fraud scheme that involved sham lawsuits against the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management.

A lawyer for the fund, Sergei Magnitsky, accused Russian government officials of masterminding the fraud scheme, but was arrested and later charged with the same crimes he had reported to the authorities and died after a beating in detention.

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11
September 2013

As Putin Edges Out Obama In Syria Crisis, US Moves To Seize $230 Million From Alleged Russian Fraudsters

Business Insider

The Russia-U.S. relationship is the focus of a lot of attention this week, with President Vladimir Putin widely perceived to have out-maneuvered President Barack Obama and winning respect from unlikely corners.
Syria, however, is not the only issue between Russia and the U.S. at the moment.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced Tuesday that authorities are seeking to seize luxury apartments and other property said to be used to launder funds by Russian criminal networks.

According to a 63-page lawsuit, Cyprus-based company Prevezon Holdings Ltd. and its New York affiliates must hand over more than $230 million for trying to launder tax fraud money with the purchase of real estate in the U.S. — notably the Alexander Condominium building at 250 East 49th street.

The case relates specifically to the notorious case of Sergei Magnitsky, the Moscow-based lawyer who was imprisoned and died mysteriously in jail after calling attention to an alleged Russian tax fraud scheme.

Magnitsky had been working for Hermitage Capital, a fund managed by American Bill Browder. After Hermitage’s Moscow offices were raided in 2007, Magnitsky began investigating and later testified that he had uncovered a huge scam by top police officials to embezzle $230 million in taxes from money that Hermitage Fund companies had paid in 2006.

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11
September 2013

US Targets Pricey Real Estate in Magnitsky Fraud Claims

RIA Novosti

US prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking to seize expensive New York properties purportedly purchased with funds stolen from Russian coffers in an alleged scam detailed by whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose 2009 death in a Russian jail has sparked a diplomatic rift between Washington and Moscow.

“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,” Preet Bharara, the US District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Tuesday in announcing the civil action.

The properties, including four luxury residences and two upscale commercial spaces, were used to launder some of the $230 million in Russian government money that Magnitsky alleged were embezzled in a tax fraud involving Russian law enforcement and tax officials, Bharara’s office claimed in a complaint filed in US federal court Tuesday.

Prosecutors say a Cyprus-based company, Prevezon Holdings, purchased the properties in a complex attempt to obscure the origins of the money and are seeking to seize the real estate and impose fines as part of the so-called “civil forfeiture” complaint filed Tuesday.

According to a report last year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an international investigative journalism consortium, Prevezon is owned by Denis Katsyv, son of Pyotr Katsyv, an official who oversees the Moscow Region’s cooperation with the Russian federal government.
Denis Katsyv and his spokesman told the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project that he was the owner of Prevezon but denied that he has any connection “with any transactions related to the alleged frauds behind the Magnitsky matter” and that “neither he nor any members of his family” have benefited from the Magnitsky case.

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