Posts Tagged ‘manhatten’

September 2013

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


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.

Read More →

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • FriendFeed
  • NewsVine
  • Digg