The White House sent a letter to Congress pledging a commitment to the “robust and thorough enforcement” of the Global Magnitsky Act.
Congress adopted the Global Magnitsky Act in December 2016. It gives the President power to impose visa bans and freeze U.S. assets against anyone who suppresses basic human rights or targets whistleblowers exposing corruption.
The Global Magnitsky Act — its full name is the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act — targets any foreign citizen “responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country.”
The President can also impose sanctions on foreign officials engaged in “significant corruption, including the expropriation of private or public assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, bribery, or the facilitation or transfer of the proceeds of corruption to foreign jurisdictions.”
In his April 20 letter to Congress, President Trump said his Administration is “actively identifying persons and entities to whom the Act may apply” and is collecting “the evidence necessary to apply it.”
“Over the coming weeks and months,” the letter said, “agencies will undertake thorough interagency vetting to ensure we fulfill our commitment to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses and corruption accountable.”
The President said “the United States will continue its leadership role in championing fundamental human rights and sound, transparent governance.”
The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act expands the Magnitsky Act adopted in 2012.
The Magnitsky Act was aimed at Russian officials and others involved in the detention or death of Sergei Magnitsky, or anyone who tried to cover it up.
Magnisky was a Russian lawyer who exposed a $230 million tax fraud.
He died in a Moscow jail in 2009 at age 36. His family and former client, William Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital, said Magnitsky was tortured and denied medical care.
The Russian government said he died of natural causes.
Under the Magnitsky Act, the United States sanctioned 39 individuals, including Russian government officials and alleged mobsters.
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Here’s the full text of the President’s letter to Congress:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 20, 2017
A Letter from the President to Certain Congressional Committee Chairs
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
TO THE CHAIRMEN OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEES ON APPROPRIATIONS AND THE JUDICIARY,
THE HOUSE COMMITTEES ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND FINANCIAL SERVICES, AND THE SENATE COMMITTEES ON FOREIGN RELATIONS AND BANKING, HOUSING, AND URBAN AFFAIRS
Dear Mr. Chairman:
In accordance with section 1264 of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Subtitle F, Public Law 114-328)(the “Act”) I have enclosed the initial report on its implementation. This report, compiled by the Departments of State, the Treasury, and other relevant executive departments and agencies (agencies), outlines my Administration’s support for this important legislation and makes clear our commitment to its robust and thorough enforcement.
As noted in the report, my Administration is actively identifying persons and entities to whom the Act may apply and are collecting the evidence necessary to apply it. Over the coming weeks and months, agencies will undertake thorough interagency vetting to ensure we fulfill our commitment to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses and corruption accountable.
As we implement this legislation, the United States will continue its leadership role in championing fundamental human rights and sound, transparent governance.
DONALD J. TRUMP
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.