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Browder pushes Europe for wider Magnitsky sanctions

Image courtesy of WikipediaWilliam Browder, left, the American-born head of London-based Hermitage Capital Management, told Dutch lawmakers last week about developments in the Magnitsky case and the breakdown of the rule of law in Russia, according to a statement issued by Hermitage.

Browder appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament during hearings last week on human rights in Russia.

He has led a global campaign for sanctions against those responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, Hermitage’s Russian lawyer who died under suspicious circumstances in a Moscow prison after uncovering a massive tax fraud. 

Browder wants national and EU sanctions on the Russian officials involved.

His appearance comes ahead of a visit on April 8 to Holland by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last year, under prodding from Browder, the U.S. adopted the Magnitsky Act. It imposes visa sanctions and asset freezes on those responsible for Magnistsky’s detention, abuse, or death, those who concealed the lawyer’s mistreatment, or were involved in or benefited from the criminal conspiracy he uncovered.

Hermitage has alleged official involvement in the illegal seizure of its Russian investment fund. After the take over, $230 million of taxes paid by Hermitage to the Russian government in 2006 was fraudulently reclaimed and funnelled to known criminals and officials, Hermitage said. Magnitsky uncovered the looting and assembled evidence of official involvement.
‘There is simply no good argument to allow those responsible for the torture and murder in police custody [of Magnitsky] to come to Holland or be allowed to use the financial system here,’ Browder said. His Hermitage fund was once the biggest foreign investor in Russia.
In June 2011, the Dutch parliament passed the Magnitsky Resolution, calling on the Dutch government to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on those responsible for Magnitsky’s death.

Russian authorities have since closed the investigation into Magnitsky’s death, Hermitage said. Despite evidence of torture and abuse, investigators said Magnitsky died of natural causes.

Russian authorities are now putting Magnitsky on trial three years after his death, in the first-ever posthumous trial in Russian legal history, Hermitage said.

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