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Another country launches Magnitsky-related investigation

Moldova has opened a criminal money-laundering probe connected to the alleged $230 million theft exposed by murdered Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Moldova is investigating $53 million that may have laundered through banks there, London-based Hermitage Capital said Monday in a news release.

Moldova joins Switzerland, Cyprus, Latvia, and Lithuania in money-laundering investigations ‘into the trail of funds stolen from the Russian treasury with the involvement of Russian government officials and organized criminals,’ Hermitage said.

In December last year, President Obama signed into law the Magnitsky Act. It imposed visa bans and asset freezes on anyone responsible for Magnitsky’s torture and death in a Russia jail three years ago.

Magnitsky was detained and held without a trial after uncovering a $230 million fraud apparently orchestrated by mobsters and government officials. He produced evidence they misappropriated a Hermitage-run investment fund and fraudulently collected tax refunds on its behalf from the Russian treasury.

No one in Russia has been tried for his 2009 death or the crimes he discovered.

We named the U.S. Magnitsky Act the biggest anti-corruption story of 2012.

Negative fallout from the Magnitsky case is hurting the flow of foreign investment into Russia and depressing stock and other asset prices, according to press reports.

The investigation by Moldova was opened in response to a formal complaint filed by Hermitage Capital Management in June last year, reported the EU Observer. Lawyers for Hermitage Capital identified two accounts at Moldova’s Banca de Economii that may have received funds stolen from the Russian treasury, the release said.

Those funds were then sent to Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, and Hong Kong, Hermitage said.

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