Posts Tagged ‘klyuev’

21
May 2014

Obama Targets Russian Mob Boss

Daily Beast

The U.S. government has publicly added 12 Russian officials to a list of human right violators but he head of the Russian Investigative Committee may be on a still secret part of that list.

The State and Treasury Departments Tuesday sanctioned a dozen Russian officials under the Magnitsky Act, adding them to a public list of human rights violators subject to asset freezes and visa bans in the United States. But Alexander Bastrykin, the powerful head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, was not on the list, at least the version released to the public.

The twelve names publicly announced for sanctions Tuesday include Dmitry Klyuev, the alleged kingpin of a Russian organized crime group. 10 of the 12 Russians on the list were associated with the death of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in prison after being severely tortured. Magnitsky was then posthumously convicted for tax fraud. The judge who convicted Magnitsky after he died, Igor Alisov, was also sanctioned Tuesday.

Bastrykin’s name was conspicuously not on the public list, but administration sources said one name was added to the classified version of the Magnitsky list. Administration officials declined to comment on whether or not that person was Bastrykin. If so, he would be the highest ranking Russian sanctioned thus far under the law.

In January, four senior senators used a provision of the law to force the administration to consider sanctions on Klyuev and Bastrykin. Both had been vetted and prepared for sanctions inside the administration last year but the White House ultimately decided not to add any names to the Magnitsky list at the time.

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20
January 2014

Congress Presses Obama On Russia Sanctions

Daily Beast

On Friday, key senators pressed the Obama administration to crack down on Russian human rights violators.
Four leading senators Friday called on President Obama to enforce U.S. law and sanction more Russian human right violators, despite the administration’s reluctance to rock the U.S.-Russian relationship.

Last month, the Obama administration declined to add names to a list of human rights violators in Russia created by Congress under the Magnitsky Act. The act is named in honor oof Sergei Maginitsky, a Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in prison after being tortured after being arrested on charges widely viewed as politically motivated.

The decision not to add new names to the Magnitsky list came as a shock to lawmakers and human rights advocates, who had been told the State Department and Treasury Department were vetting several alleged Russian human rights abusers for addition to the list, an action that would subject them to visa bans and asset freezes.

Late Friday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and the ranking member, Bob Corker (R-TN) invoked a section of the Magnitsky Act that allows senior lawmakers to submit names to the administration for the list on a bipartisan basis. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John McCain (R-AZ), the bill’s original co-sponsors, supported the move. The Obama adminstration is ultimately responsible for accepting or rejecting these recomendations to add names to the list.

“On December 20, 2013, we received the Department of State’s first annual report. Disappointingly and contrary to repeated assurances and expectations, this report indicates that no persons have been added to the Magnitsky list since April 2013 and does not provide adequate details on the administration’s efforts to encourage other governments to impose similar targeted sanctions,” the senators wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. “We look forward to your response to our request and hope you will also clarify when we can expect additional names to be added to the Magnitsky list as well as specific administration efforts to encourage other governments to adopt legislation similar to the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.”

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18
March 2013

Are Russian killers on the streets of Britain?

The Observer Magazine

A jogger who collapsed and died in leafy Weybridge turns out to have been blowing the whistle on one of Russia’s biggest tax frauds. Mark Townsend reports on a crisis that has pitted the Kremlin against the US Senate and British police.

Shortly after 5.15pm on 10 November 2012, a jogger turned into Granville Road, Weybridge, running along the hedge-lined street of one of Britain’s wealthiest enclaves. Then, 50m from his home, he staggered into the road and died.

In the days that followed, Surrey police believed they were dealing with a natural, if unusual, death. Four months on, the passing of 44-year-old Alexander Perepilichnyy still remains a mystery. Two post-mortems have proved inconclusive, but the outcome of what Surrey police promise is their “full range” of toxicology tests is imminent.

To piece together Perepilichnyy’s final years is to drill down into the core of Russian criminality, according to one account.

What we know of Perepilichnyy is slight. In another age he might have been a rocket scientist. Peers called him a “genius”, a Ukranian whiz-kid with an uncanny knack for numbers. His favourite waste of time was, they say, discussing the theories behind cosmogony and Kondratiev waves – the long-term cycles of capitalism. However by the time Perepilichnyy arrived to study at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology – famous for supplying the brains behind the Soviet space race – Russia’s lunar ambitions had curdled with the collapse of communism. Instead Perepilichnyy applied his talents to the world of finance and was, until 2008, a star talent at an asset management firm in Moscow.

That year, on the other side of Moscow, across Red Square and the brown Moskva river, a rival investment fund to Perepilichnyy’s had become engulfed in crisis. Hermitage Capital was under the guidance of a man called Bill Browder, a naturalised Briton based in London who had built the investment firm into the largest foreign investor in Russia. But on Christmas Eve 2007, it had discovered itself to be the victim of a huge and sophisticated scam.

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18
January 2013

A Russian Lawyer’s Death Triggers a Global Money Hunt

Bloomberg Businessweek

In 2009, a lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow jail after uncovering the biggest known tax fraud in Russian history—a theft of $230 million from the national treasury. The case has touched off a diplomatic row, with the U.S. imposing sanctions on Russian officials accused of having a role in Magnitsky’s death and Moscow retaliating on Dec. 28 by barring Americans from adopting Russian orphans.

Now about that $230 million. Russian authorities said it couldn’t be found because essential records were destroyed in a truck crash. A sawmill worker and a convicted burglar pleaded guilty to masterminding the heist, which involved filing bogus tax-refund claims. Both got five-year sentences.

Magnitsky’s associates, though, keep looking for the cash. An investigation spearheaded by his former client, Hermitage Capital Management, a London-based investment fund, has traced $134 million through bank accounts and shell companies in at least 17 countries. Banking records obtained by Hermitage and reviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek show that millions wound up in offshore accounts and real estate owned by Russian officials, their relatives, and the former owner of a Russian bank. Authorities in four of these countries confirm that they have opened money-laundering investigations.

In the Magnitsky case, Hermitage accuses government officials of stealing from taxpayers, and the Kremlin has made no apparent effort to recover the money. “That’s the most awful thing—it is our money,” says Roman Anin, a reporter at the Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta who has worked with Hermitage on its investigation. Russia’s Interior Ministry did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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10
December 2012

Death in Surrey: now the plot thickens

The Independent

New details have emerged about the shadowy life of Alexander Perepilichnyy, the Russian fugitive who dropped dead while jogging outside his luxury home in Surrey last month. The supergrass, who provided documents that allegedly implicate a number of Russian officials and businessmen in a huge tax rebate scam, himself appears to have been deeply submerged in the murky world of semi-legal Russian money, and feared for his life if he returned to his home country.

“He was worried about the situation he had in Russia,” Andrei Pavlov, a Moscow-based lawyer who met Mr Perepilichnyy twice during his self-imposed exile in the UK, told The Independent in a rare interview. Mr Perepilichnyy, who was 44, had no reported health issues when he collapsed. Two autopsies proved inconclusive and toxicology tests are now being carried out on his body.

Sources describe Mr Perepilichnyy as a “private banker” who took money from wealthy Russians and invested it abroad for them. Such services are popular with Russians who have made money either legally or illegally at home and want to move it out of the country. Mr Perepilichnyy apparently fled Russia in 2009 after a dispute with business partners, and later became the source for documents handed to Swiss prosecutors that showed details of money transfers allegedly related to a huge theft of Russian tax revenue. The alleged fraud was carried out by a corrupt group of officials and discovered by the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail after being tortured.

Most notably, Mr Perepilichnyy passed documents relating to the financial transactions of his former business partner, Vladlen Stepanov. Mr Stepanov was implicated in the fraud that Mr Magnitsky uncovered; his wife was in charge of the tax office that granted the rebate, and both appeared to make huge property purchases in the immediate aftermath. In an interview to a Russian newspaper last year, Mr Stepanov called Mr Perepilichnyy “a physics and maths genius who had started financial activities”, and managed all of his financial transactions before disappearing. He has always denied that any of his property deals had been made with laundered money.

Court documents from a Moscow case last year describe Mr Perepilichnyy as “living outside the Russian Federation because he fears for his life”. Mr Pavlov says Mr Perepilichnyy contacted him in 2010 through a mutual acquaintance and asked for a meeting in Zurich because he was scared of travelling to Russia. Mr Perepilichnyy asked Mr Pavlov to mediate the dispute with Mr Stepanov. Mr Pavlov refused, telling Mr Perepilichnyy to contact Mr Stepanov directly. The pair’s second and final meeting took place several months later, in a café on the upper floor of Heathrow Terminal 5. “He asked for a meeting, and I was transitting through Heathrow,” recalls Mr Pavlov. Mr Perepilichnyy told him he had spoken to Mr Stepanov and all was in order, although in his interview a year later, Mr Stepanov claimed Mr Perepilichnyy “is in hiding… and doesn’t answer calls”. Mr Pavlov says after the Heathrow meeting, Mr Perepilichnyy went dark. “I didn’t have his contact details, just his Skype account, and he disappeared from Skype.”

In a potentially strange twist, Mr Pavlov claims Mr Perepilichnyy managed to implicate himself in the fraud, causing Swiss prosecutors to freeze his own accounts as well as Mr Stepanov’s. “He handed over documents relating to his own company,” said Mr Pavlov. “He ended up having a lot of his own money frozen in Switzerland. This was a very negative effect for him.” Swiss prosecutors did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

Hermitage, the investment fund that fell victim to the tax rebate scandal, claims that Mr Stepanov, Ms Stepanova and Mr Pavlov are all linked to a criminal group run by Dmitry Klyuev, a Russian businessman. “In our opinion, Andrei Pavlov provided legal support in a number of court proceedings used to perpetrate fraud against Hermitage and the Russian budget,” said a spokesman for Hermitage yesterday.

The Russian government has not opened an investigation against any of those whom Hermitage says is responsible for the rebate; instead it has opened a posthumous case against Mr Magnitsky, claiming he himself carried out the fraud. One of the most surprising turns of events in the saga came during a hearing of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Monaco in July. Hermitage’s CEO, Bill Browder, was presenting a film detailing his allegations about Mr Klyuev and his associates, when the man himself, accompanied by Mr Pavlov, arrived at the session venue.

A source on Capitol Hill who has been involved in the Magnitsky legislation said the American delegation to the OSCE was “blown away” when the pair showed up. “Senator [John} McCain had publicly written to the President calling on him to proscribe these guys in the same way you would a terrorist group. And when he goes to Monaco they turn up,” said the source. “It would be like making a presentation on why you should ban al-Qa’ida only for a member to turn up at the meeting.”

Mr Pavlov says the pair’s appearance was simply an attempt to get their side of the story heard. “We decided to go and say, hello, this is us, maybe you could ask us [about the allegations] first, but they didn’t let us in,” he says. “We found the Russian delegation and asked them to let us in, but they said they couldn’t help us.” Mr Pavlov says the delegates were shocked and told them to speak with Mr Browder directly. “But Browder had already left.”

Mr Pavlov described the furore over Mr Perepilichnyy’s death as “much ado about nothing”, and said he thought that news coverage of the event was part of a sinister campaign against him and others.

MAGNITSKY CASE

THE KEY PLAYERS

Sergei Magnitsky

The lawyer, right, tasked with investigating the alleged fraud against the US fund Hermitage Capital. Died in prison in 2009 after he was beaten and prison officials refused him medical treatment.

Dmitry Klyuev

Russian businessman, former owner of a bank that received the money from the tax rebates. Denies all knowledge of the fraud.

Bill Browder

American-born British founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital; has fought tirelessly in favour of a “Magnitsky list”.

Andrei Pavlov

The lawyer, right, that Hermitage Capital says gave Klyuev legal support in a number of fraudulent deals. He denies this, and says he is just friends with Klyuev.

Olga Stepanova

Stepanova, below left, was in charge of Tax Office 28 in Moscow, where she authorised $230m tax rebate. Bought luxury property despite her modest official salary.

Vladlen Stepanov

Businessman. He claims no involvement in fraud, says he divorced Stepanova several years ago and all money he has is his own. Partners with Alexander Perepilichnyy.

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07
December 2012

US starts a new ‘cold war’ over Magnitsky affair: Furious Russia vows to list Americans blocked from entering country, after US votes to name and shame corrupt officials

The Independent. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described ‘biased approach’ as ‘nothing but a vindictive desire to counter Russia in world affairs’

SHAUN WALKER, JEROME TAYLOR MOSCOW FRIDAY 07 DECEMBER 2012

One of Russia’s top foreign policy officials responded furiously and promised that Russia would indeed answer with its own list of Americans to be banned from entry to Russia.

“The reciprocal list will be fairly significant, if we name those behind Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib, and the CIA secret jails, Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Russia’s Federation Council.

“The list will include those who have violated human rights [in the Middle East], and that would be according to global opinion, and not just the opinion of this Mr Browder, who some experts feel is simply using the Magnitsky List as a diversion.”

However, according to a poll by the Levada Centre, an independent Russian polling agency, 39 percent of Russians who had heard about the Magnitsky Act approved of it, rising to 45% among Muscovites.

Yesterday the US Senate voted to name and shame Russian officials involved in corruption and to forbid them from travelling to America or investing there.

The overwhelming vote in favour of the new law prompted a furious response from Moscow – as well as demands from two former British Foreign Secretaries, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and David Miliband, for a similar ban to be introduced by the UK.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hit back, describing the “biased approach” as “nothing but a vindictive desire to counter Russia in world affairs”.

The Ministry published a series of furious remarks on its official Twitter feed: “It is perplexing and preposterous to hear human rights complaints from the US, where torture and kidnapping are legal in the 21st century. Apparently, Washington has forgotten what year this is and still thinks the Cold War is going on.

“The US decision to impose visa and financial sanctions on certain Russian citizens is like something out of the theatre of the absurd. Obviously, US passage of the ‘Magnitsky Law’ will adversely affect the prospects of bilateral cooperation.”

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02
December 2012

MI5 alert over death of Russian supergrass exile

The Sunday Times

MI5 is monitoring the mysterious death of a Russian supergrass after a second post-mortem examination on his body failed to rule out murder.

Alexander Perepilichnyy, a wealthy businessman who sought sanctuary in Britain three years ago after falling out with a crime syndicate and testifying against it, was found dead outside his luxury home on a private estate in Surrey.

Ministers are awaiting the results of further toxicology tests on the body for radioactive poisons including polonium 210. The same poison was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB spy who died in London six years ago.

Perepilichnyy, who was 44 and apparently in good health, was co-operating with the Swiss authorities, who have been investigating allegations of money-laundering and a network of corrupt Russian officials.

The network is said to be led by Dmitry Klyuev, a convicted Russian criminal, who has been named by American and British politicians as the head of the so-called Klyuev crime group.

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30
November 2012

Shell company supergrass found dead

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/world/8019225/Shell-company-supergrass-found-dead

A wealthy Russian businessman who blew the whistle on massive Moscow corruption that involved New Zealand shell companies has died in mysterious circumstances in England.

Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, was the third or fourth person linked to the scandal to have died suddenly.

His secret testimony, part of which was published in May last year by Fairfax Media papers, exposed Moscow’s Klyuev organised crime group which is accused of extorting around US$800 million (NZ$973m).

He revealed how the group laundered US$245m through Switzerland – including part of it through Queen St, Auckland, shell companies.

The Independent newspaper says Perepilichnyy, who had sought sanctuary in Britain three years ago, collapsed outside his mansion on a luxury private estate on the outskirts of Weybridge a week ago.

The newspaper says he was in seemingly good health. Surrey police said further tests will be carried out on the body.

“It was a sudden death and a post-mortem examination was carried out which was inconclusive and an inquest will now be held,” a police statement said.

“The investigation has been handed over to the coroner, subject to anything being found that requires further police investigation.”

The Independent said Swiss prosecutors were investigating the operation which involved Credit Suisse and the Moscow branch of London-based global investment advisory firm Hermitage Capital Management.

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29
November 2012

Second postmortem on Russian whistleblower found dead in Surrey

The Guardian

Surrey police are carrying out a second postmortem on a Russian whistleblower found dead outside his Surrey home, three years after he fled to the UK to escape a Russian crime syndicate.

Detectives said they were awaiting the results of toxicology tests on 44-year-old Alexander Perepilichnyy. An earlier postmortem was “inconclusive”, they said. The Russian businessman, who had appeared in good health, was found collapsed earlier this month outside his luxury mansion in Weybridge. He was discovered at 5.15pm and pronounced dead 25 minutes later. Witnesses said he was wearing shorts and running shoes. According to his wife, he had been for a run.

Police are so far describing the death as “unexplained”. But Perepilichnyy was a man with enemies. He had accused Russian government officials of complicity in one of the biggest tax scandals in Russian history. The case involved the interior ministry and the alleged theft of $230m (£144m) in taxes paid by the Hermitage investment fund to the Russian government. A Russian lawyer who uncovered the scam, Sergei Magnitsky, was jailed by the authorities and died in prison three years ago.

According to Hermitage, Perepilichnyy was a key witness against one of Russia’s most notorious criminal gangs, the “Klyuev group”. The group’s members include Russian officials in law enforcement, the FSB spy agency, the tax agency and senior judges. Its members are allegedly responsible for a series of multimillion dollar tax frauds, dating back over a decade and including the Magnitsky case. They are said to have siphoned off $800m. Perepilichnyy is the fourth person linked to the group to have died a sudden death.

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