The UK House of Commons Tuesday passed legislation that would expand the powers of the government and courts to freeze assets of human rights violators.
The vote in the House of Commons was unanimous.
The bill needs to be adopted by the House of Lords to become law.
The Magnitsky amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill expands the definition of “unlawful conduct” to include human rights abuses. It also applies to those who profited from or materially assisted in the abuses.
The bill includes protections for whistleblowers.
The United States adopted the Magnitsky Act in 2012. It imposes sanctions on those responsible for the 36-year-old lawyer’s detention, abuse, or death. It also reaches those who concealed his mistreatment, or were involved in or benefited from the criminal conspiracy he uncovered.
Estonia passed a Magnitsky law in 2016.
Sergei Magnitsky died in custody in 2009 after uncovering a $230 million tax fraud against the Russian treasury. His evidence implicated a number of government officials and mobsters. The Russian government has said Magnitsky died of natural causes while in jail.
Versions of Magnitsky laws are being debated in Canada and the EU.
William Browder heads the global Magnitsky Justice Campaign. He’s the American-born head of London-based Hermitage Capital Management. Magnitsky was Hermitage’s lawyer in Russia.
Browder told the OCCRP: “The new Magnitsky Sanctions Legislation is going to cause perceptible fear for kleptocrats in Russia and other authoritarian regimes. They all have expensive properties in London and think they are untouchable.”
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.