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Offline mayya

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Russian Whistleblower Posthumously Convicted
« on: July 12, 2013, 16:07:59 PM »

Russian Whistleblower Posthumously Convicted


A tombstone on the grave of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail, at a cemetery in Moscow, November 2012.


July 11, 2013
A Moscow court has convicted lawyer Sergei Magnitsky of tax evasion, more than three years after he died in jail, in a case that strained U.S.-Russian ties. The American founder of the investment fund that employed Magnitsky was also convicted and sentenced in absentia.

Magnitsky was convicted along with his former boss, Hermitage Capital Management founder William Browder, who was sentenced in absentia to nine years in a prison colony.

Browder described the verdict as a "shameful moment for Russia." In an interview with VOA's Russian Service, Browder said he won't be satisfied until officials implicated in Magnitsky's death face trial.

"I think that what this shows you is the entire apparatus of Russian law enforcement and the Russian judiciary system is corrupt," said Browder. "That just about everybody is involved in crimes or involved in covering up the crimes or basically guilty of not saying anything when other people are doing the crimes."

Magnitsky, in his work with Hermitage, accused Russian law enforcement and tax officials of taking part in a scheme to fraudulently collect refunds for taxes that the company paid in Russia, totaling $230 million.

He was subsequently arrested on tax evasion charges. Magnitsky died in prison in 2009 at age 37, after being detained for nearly a year and saying he was denied medical attention.

In 2011, an investigation by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's human rights council found that Magnitsky, who had pancreatitis, had been "completely deprived" of medical care before his death. It added there was "reasonable suspicion" to believe Magnitsky's death was triggered by a beating.

The case became a symbol of alleged prison abuse in modern Russian and led to a fresh dispute between Moscow and Washington.

The U.S. enacted the Magnitsky Act, imposing a visa ban and financial sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin then quickly signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2013, 16:23:50 PM by mayya »

Offline mayya

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Sergei Magnitsky verdict 'most shameful moment since Stalin'
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2013, 16:09:37 PM »

Sergei Magnitsky verdict 'most shameful moment since Stalin'

Russian posthumous trial of tax whistleblower is condemned by head of company defrauded of $230m

    Miriam Elder, Thursday 11 July 2013 14.20 BST   

William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital found his company was the victim of tax fraud by Russian officials. Photograph: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

The courtroom cage in Moscow stood empty on Thursday as a judge found the late whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky and his London-based employer guilty of tax evasion in a move likened to Stalin-era justice.

The case against the two defendants – Magnitsky, allowed to die an excruciating death in prison in 2009, and William Browder, banned from entering Russia since 2005 – has come to symbolise the brutality of Russia's system and the penalties incurred by those who uncovering official wrongdoing.

Magnitsky, a lawyer hired by Browder's London-based Hermitage Capital Management fund, uncovered a $230m (£150m) tax fraud scheme run by a host of Russian interior ministry and tax officials using documents stolen in a raid on Hermitage Capital. Magnitsky and Browder were then charged with running the fraud themselves.

Magnitsky was thrown into one of Russia's harshest pre-trial detention centres, repeatedly denied medical care and allowed to die. A presidential human-rights commission later found evidence that he was tortured.

Many of the officials involved in the alleged fraud the lawyer uncovered received promotions and awards.

Thursday's verdict was the culmination of a year-long effort to discredit Magnitsky, and Browder, who has waged a global campaign to punish top Kremlin officials for the former's death.

He successfully lobbied the US government to adopt a "Magnitsky list" that bans officials involved in the fraud from entering the US or keeping bank accounts there. Moscow retaliated by banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

Magnitsky was spared a posthumous jail sentence after a Moscow judge acknowledged that he was already dead. Browder was sentenced to nine years in absentia, and banned from doing business in Russia for three years.

"The Russian government is effectively a criminal regime now," Browder said by telephone from London He he has been living in the UK since being denied entry into Russia after landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in November 2005 on the grounds he was a threat to national security.

Once Russia's largest portfolio investor, and one of President Vladimir Putin's biggest foreign fans, Browder appeared to have run afoul of the Kremlin after picking up stakes in some of the country's largest state-run companies.

"Doing business in Russia means either you've effectively become part of a criminal regime or a victim of a criminal regime," Browder said.

"There's no way to do business in Russia without seriously compromising yourself or putting yourself in grave danger."

Browder said his and Magnitsky's relatives had refused to take part in the trial. "We didn't want to dignify a clearly illegitimate judicial process," he said.

Speaking of Magnitsky's relatives, Browder added: "As you can imagine, it's one thing to have their son and husband murdered. But it's just beyond sadistic to them to prosecute his corpse."

In an earlier statement, Browder said: "Today's verdict will go down in history as one of the most shameful moments for Russia since the days of Joseph Stalin."

The Magnitsky verdict comes days after a Russian court convicted a dead woman in the first posthumous trial in Russia in decades. Olga Alexandrina was found guilty of causing the car accident that killed her despite widespread evidence that the other driver, a vice-president at Russian oil major Lukoil, likely caused the crash.

Offline mayya

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Russia convicts lawyer Magnitsky in posthumous trial
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2013, 16:12:39 PM »

Russia convicts lawyer Magnitsky in posthumous trial

By Maria Tsvetkova and Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW | Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:37pm EDT

(Reuters) - Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in prison in suspicious circumstances, was found guilty of tax evasion on Thursday in a posthumous trial that has further damaged President Vladimir Putin's reputation in the West.

The Moscow court also convicted Magnitsky's former client William Browder, a British investment fund boss who has led an international campaign to expose corruption and punish Russian officials he blames for Magnitsky's death in 2009.

Browder, tried in absentia, was sentenced to nine years' jail in the case, which deepened U.S. and European Union concerns over human rights and the rule of law in Putin's Russia.

"Today's verdict will go down in history as one of the most shameful moments for Russia since the days of Josef Stalin," Browder, who is unlikely to be extradited from Britain to Russia, said in an emailed statement.

Amnesty International called Magnitsky's prosecution - Russia's first posthumous trial - "deeply sinister", saying it "set a dangerous precedent that could open a whole new chapter in Russia's worsening human rights record."

The European Union said the trial sent "a disturbing message to those who fight corruption in Russia". The U.S. State Department said it was "disappointed by the unprecedented posthumous criminal conviction against Sergei Magnitsky."

Russian authorities said they pushed ahead with the posthumous trial in order to ensure justice was done. Prosecutors had accused Magnitsky and Browder of failing to pay 522 million roubles ($16 million) in taxes.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on Thursday.

Magnitsky died after a year in jail during which he said he was mistreated and denied medical care in an effort to get him to confess to tax evasion and give evidence against Browder, the head of investment fund Hermitage Capital Management.

The Kremlin's own human rights council has said there was evidence suggesting Magnitsky, 37, was beaten to death. Yet Putin has dismissed allegations of torture or foul play and told the nation last year that he died of heart failure.


A judge threw out a case against a senior prison official, the only person to face trial over Magnitsky's death, after Putin signalled that Russian authorities should not be blamed.

"Mr Magnitsky has been declared a criminal on the basis of unconvincing evidence, while neither the corruption scandal he uncovered nor the circumstances of his death have been clarified," Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said in a statement.

"This is a revealing illustration of the state of the rule of law in Russia," she said, adding that the EU was "raising the Magnitsky case with the Russian authorities at all levels".

After lobbying by Browder, the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, which bars Russians believed to have been involved in his death or other severe human rights abuses from entering the United States, and freezes their assets there.

President Barack Obama signed the legislation last December, adding to strains that have increased between the former Cold War adversaries since Putin returned to the Kremlin in May 2012.

Putin, who accuses the United States of using human rights concerns as a pretext to meddle in Russia's affairs, swiftly retaliated by imposing similar measures on Americans and also barring U.S. couples from adopting Russian children.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat and author of the Magnitsky Act, called the ruling "shameful" but said "we have come to expect this sort of behavior from the Putin regime."

"What this does is continue the downward spiral of Russia's reputation as a law-abiding state and member of the international community," Cardin said in a statement.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters: "We continue to call for full accountability for all those responsible for Magnitsky's wrongful death and will continue to support the efforts of those in Russia who seek to hold those individuals accountable."


Russian authorities closed the case against Magnitsky after his death but reopened it in 2011. His family said it was illegal to try a dead man without the consent of his relatives - a position shared by the EU and Amnesty International.

Russia's own human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, also criticized the posthumous trial. "In that case, let's put Ivan the Terrible on trial," the Interfax news agency quoted Lukin as saying, in a reference to the 16th century tsar.

Browder says he and Magnitsky were targeted by the authorities in retaliation for exposing large-scale corruption.

His Hermitage Capital said in a statement: "This show trial confirms that Vladimir Putin is ready to sacrifice his international credibility to protect corrupt officials who murdered an innocent lawyer and stole $230 million from the Russian state."

Browder, whose fund was once the largest investor in Russian equity markets, says Magnitsky's arrest was engineered by the same police and tax officials he had implicated in the alleged theft, committed through fraudulent tax refunds.

He and his supporters have documented what they say is evidence that officials involved in the case had vastly enriched themselves, with homes, cars and other property far out of reach of their state salaries.

The case "shows the lengths that Putin is ready to go to retaliate against anyone who exposes the stealing and corruption he presides over," Browder said, adding that the government had inflicted "malicious pain" on Magnitsky's grieving family.

Magnitsky's mother, Natalya, declined to attend a trial she called an "outrage against the memory of my son". The court appointed defense lawyers after she and Browder refused to do so.

The courtroom cage reserved for defendants stood empty as judge Igor Alisov read the verdict, saying the state had proved its claim that Magnitsky, acting in Browder's interests, had organized and implemented a large-scale tax evasion scheme.

Browder's court-appointed lawyer said he would appeal.

Prosecutor Svyatoslav Slobodin said Browder would be arrested if he entered the country, but Russia's chances of jailing him are slim.

Interpol has refused to include Browder on its international search list after deciding that Russia's tax evasion case against him was "predominantly political".

(Additional reporting by Alexei Anishchuk in Moscow, Adrian Croft in Brussels, and Patricia Zengerle and Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Trevelyan)

link to video :

Offline mayya

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Russia convicts dead whistleblower
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2013, 16:16:56 PM »

Russia convicts dead whistleblower

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP - In this Monday, Nov. 30, 2009, file photo, a portrait of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in jail, is held by his mother Nataliya Magnitskaya, as she speaks during an interview with the AP in Moscow.

By Will Englund, Published: July 11 E-mail the writer

MOSCOW — A Russian court wrapped up the trial of a dead man Thursday, finding whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky guilty of fraud but waiving a sentence.

Magnitsky was a lawyer who unearthed a $230 million fraud by police and tax officials, but he was arrested and charged with perpetrating the fraud himself. He died in a Moscow prison in 2009, apparently after a severe beating.
A Nepalese Muslim offers prayers during the month-long fasting in the holy month of Ramadan in Kathmandu July 11, 2013. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar (NEPAL - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Will Englund 12:12 AM ET

Outrage over his case inspired a U.S. law imposing financial and visa sanctions on corrupt Russian officials, which in turn led to a Russian law banning American adoptions of Russian children.

Other nations, including Britain, may be following the United States’ lead.

Also convicted Thursday, in absentia, was the man Magnitsky was working for, investment manager William Browder. Now in London, Browder has sponsored a years-long investigation into the case along with a campaign to bring the officials responsible to account. Safely beyond the reach of Russian justice, he was sentenced to nine years in prison. His attorney said he plans to appeal.

“Today’s verdict will go down in history as one of the most shameful moments for Russia since the days of Joseph Stalin,” Browder said in a statement. “This is the first conviction of a dead man in Europe in the last ten centuries.”

Browder had at one time been an enthusiastic investor in Russia, through his firm Hermitage Capital, and a decade ago he was a strong supporter of President Vladimir Putin. But he pushed for more efficient and transparent corporate governance, and that eventually made him a target. Corporate documents were stolen from Hermitage and used in the tax fraud Magnitsky later uncovered.

“The desperation behind this move shows the lengths that Putin is ready to go to to retaliate against anyone who exposes the stealing and corruption he presides over,” Browder said in the statement. “When the Putin regime ultimately falls, future generations of Russians will be naming streets and monuments after Sergei Magnitsky for his heroism and sacrifice.”

Although he received no sentence, Magnitsky was denied the opportunity for legal rehabilitation, which his family had been seeking.

“The worst part of today’s verdict is the malicious pain that the Russian government is ready to inflict on the grieving family of a man who was killed for standing up to government corruption and police abuse,” Browder said in his statement.

Britain appears to have banned a number of officials associated with the Magnitsky case, although on a more informal basis than the United States. The Sergei Magnitsky Accountability and Rule of Law Act, signed into law by President Obama in December, was denounced by Russian officials and may have goaded them into putting Magnitsky on trial posthumously this spring.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), sponsor of the Magnitsky Act, said Thursday that the conviction of Magnitsky after his death was “shameful.” The State Department issued a comment saying it was “disappointed” by Magnitsky’s conviction. “The trial was a discredit to the efforts of those who continue to seek justice in his case,” it said. “Despite widely publicized, credible evidence of criminal conduct resulting in Magnitsky’s death, authorities have failed to prosecute those responsible. We continue to call for full accountability for all those responsible for Magnitsky’s wrongful death, and we’ll continue to support the efforts of those in Russia who seek to hold those individuals accountable.”

“Sadly, we have come to expect this sort of behavior from the Putin regime,” he said in a statement. “Such a verdict does no further harm to Sergei, though it must be torturous for his family and friends.”

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), House sponsor of the Magnitsky bill, also said he was disappointed but not surprised by the conviction. “It is clear to me and the rest of the international community that the posthumous trial and its verdict have been orchestrated by the Russian authorities in order to shift attention from their own misguided and criminal actions and corruption,” he said.

Offline mayya

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Court finds Magnitsky, Browder guilty of tax evasion
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2013, 16:18:43 PM »

Court finds Magnitsky, Browder guilty of tax evasion
Published time: July 11, 2013 08:53
Edited time: July 11, 2013 09:54
Sergey Magnitsky


A district court in Moscow has ruled both the fugitive boss of the Hermitage Capital investment company and its late auditor guilty of tax evasion.

According to the verdict the two suspects failed to pay over 552 million rubles in taxes (about US$16 million).

At the same time, the court ordered to stop the case against Magnitsky in connection with his death. The former head of the investment fund, British citizen William Browder was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Browder was sentenced in absentia as he fled Russia when the probe into his activities just started and resides in UK, which has no extradition agreement with Russia.

The Magnitsky trial was the first against a deceased person in modern Russian history. The auditor died in a pre-trial detention center in Moscow in 2009. The cause of death was acute pancreatitis and heart condition and prison doctors were brought to justice in connection with this incident.

After his death, former colleagues and bosses claimed that Magnitsky had uncovered a major fraud scheme masterminded by Russian tax officials and law enforcers who put the accountant in prison to silence him.

Russian investigators, in turn, claim Magnitsky’s statements were not reports about crimes, but a testimony within the criminal case that had been already opened against him and his bosses.

Magnitsky’s relatives insisted on his innocence and eventually the case was re-opened, as recent changes in Russian law only allow the closure of cases in connection with suspects’ deaths if all their relatives consent to it. Magnitsky’s relatives did not officially agree to the case’s closure as they and their lawyers were boycotting the process, claiming it was illegitimate.

Prosecutors pressed additional charges against Browder earlier this year, accusing him of illegally buying shares in the country’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom.

Magnitsky’s death and trial sparked an international scandal and led to a major strain in Russia-US relations when, in late 2012, the United States introduced the so-called Magnitsky Act – a law imposing sanctions on some Russian civil servants involved in the case.

Russia blasted the move as an attempt to influence justice in a sovereign country and replied by adopting the similar Guantanamo List – a set of sanctions against foreign officials suspected of violating Human Rights or the rights of Russian citizens who were detained and tried abroad.

In the latest developments, British mass media reported this week that UK could also introduce sanctions against Russian citizens connected with the Magnitsky case. However, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented that the Russian side was unaware of any such measures.

Offline mayya

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Re: Russian Whistleblower Posthumously Convicted
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2013, 16:38:46 PM »

A selection of GI files reporting on the Magnitsky  case :,20433.0.html