US Congress Introduce Magnitsky Visa Ban Law

September 29, 2010

Law Intro­duced in US Con­gress to Freeze Assets and Ban Visas for Russ­ian Offi­cials Impli­cated in Death of Sergei Magnitsky

Today, a law has been intro­duced in the US Con­gress which will enact eco­nomic sanc­tions and visa bans on Russ­ian offi­cials and other indi­vid­u­als involved in the tor­ture and mur­der in cus­tody of 37-year old lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The new law, enti­tled “Jus­tice for Sergei Mag­nit­sky Act of 2010”, will make those impli­cated in the repres­sive arrest and death of Mag­nit­sky inel­i­gi­ble for admis­sion to the United States and will revoke any exist­ing US visas. The law will also freeze and pro­hibit all finan­cial trans­ac­tions of those indi­vid­u­als within the United States.

The co-sponsors of the “Jus­tice for Sergei Mag­nit­sky Act of 2010” law are some of the most promi­nent US polit­i­cal fig­ures and lead­ers in the fields of human rights and jus­tice, includ­ing Sen­a­tor Ben­jamin Cardin and Con­gress­man James McGovern.

The authors of the law stated its pur­pose to be as follows:

“A Bill to require the Sec­re­tary of State to iden­tify indi­vid­u­als respon­si­ble for the deten­tion, abuse, or death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky or for the con­spir­acy to defraud the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion of taxes on cor­po­rate prof­its through fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tions and law­suits against Her­mitage, and to impose a visa ban and cer­tain finan­cial mea­sures with respect to such indi­vid­u­als, until the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion has thor­oughly inves­ti­gated the death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky and brought the Russ­ian crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem into com­pli­ance with inter­na­tional legal stan­dards, and for other purposes.”

The eco­nomic sanc­tions and visa bans will affect all offi­cials involved in the embez­zle­ment of $230 mil­lion of bud­get funds uncov­ered by Sergei Mag­nit­sky and those con­nected to his arrest and per­se­cu­tion in deten­tion as well as all indi­vid­u­als involved in the cover-up of these crimes. The sanc­tions will also apply to their depen­dent fam­ily mem­bers. The law also calls for a freeze on trans­ac­tions con­ducted by any peo­ple act­ing on their behalf.

Sen­a­tor Cardin said:

“Nearly a year after Sergei’s death, the lead­ing fig­ures in this scheme remain in power in Rus­sia. It has become clear that if we expect any mea­sure of jus­tice in this case, we must act in the United States…At the least we can and should block these cor­rupt indi­vid­u­als from trav­el­ing and invest­ing their ill-gotten money in our country.”

The visa ban ini­tia­tive was orig­i­nally intro­duced in April 2010 after US Sen­a­tor Ben­jamin Cardin, Chair­man of the US Helsinki Com­mis­sion, leaned about the absolute impunity shown by the offi­cials respon­si­ble for the death of Mag­nit­sky. He sub­se­quently requested US Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton to impose a visa ban on 60 Russ­ian offi­cials involved in the arrest, per­se­cu­tion and death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky. In May this year, US Con­gress­man James McGov­ern, co-chair of the US Con­gres­sional Tom Lan­tos Human Rights Com­mis­sion, held hear­ings on the Sergei Mag­nit­sky case where he vowed to make those visa bans into law and to strengthen them with finan­cial sanctions.

William Brow­der, CEO of Her­mitage Cap­i­tal said:

“Mak­ing the visa ban ini­tia­tive into law is a fur­ther step by US law­mak­ers in show­ing their com­mit­ment in the fight against endemic cor­rup­tion in Rus­sia. It is also a trib­ute to the ideals of Sergei Mag­nit­sky who believed in the rule of law and jus­tice and fought for them until the last moments of his young life.”

More than ten months since Sergei Magnitsky’s death, nobody has been charged in the inves­ti­ga­tion ordered by Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Medvedev. The cor­rupt Russ­ian offi­cials impli­cated by Sergei Mag­nit­sky have in fact been pro­moted. They are liv­ing way beyond what their offi­cial salaries would allow, pur­su­ing lav­ish lifestyles and buy­ing prop­er­ties worth mil­lions of dol­lars. For more details, see Russ­ian Untouch­ables videos on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZB3YoAvEro;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TWhlPqVddc

The intro­duc­tion of the “Jus­tice for Sergei Mag­nit­sky Act of 2010” law in the US Con­gress comes two weeks after a pub­lic appeal from 14 promi­nent Russ­ian civil rights activists who urged US and EU gov­ern­ments to enact sanc­tions against Russ­ian offi­cials respon­si­ble for Magnitsky’s polit­i­cally moti­vated arrest and mur­der and who remain “untouch­able” in Rus­sia. Among those who sup­ported the appeal are Lud­mila Alex­eeva, Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group; Sergei Kovalev, Chair of Memo­r­ial human rights group; Lev Pono­marev, Direc­tor of For Human Rights group; Alexei Simonov, Pres­i­dent of Glas­nost foundation.

The Bill will come into force 90 days after the date of the enact­ment of the Act.

Sum­mary of the “Jus­tice for Sergei Mag­nit­sky Act”
Sen­a­tor Ben­jamin L. Cardin || Rep. Jim McGovern

Overview: This bill would bar all indi­vid­u­als con­nected to the 2009 death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky from receiv­ing U.S. visas and access­ing U.S. finan­cial markets.

Mag­nit­sky, a Russ­ian anti-corruption lawyer, died after suf­fer­ing tor­tur­ous con­di­tions in pre-trial deten­tion, after repeat­edly being denied med­ical treat­ment. He had exposed a $230 mil­lion tax fraud scheme and accused Russ­ian offi­cials of steal­ing the mil­lions of tax dol­lars paid by his client, Her­mitage Capital.

Visa Ban:
No U.S. visas are to be issued to:
 – Indi­vid­u­als who were engaged in any act that was instru­men­tal in caus­ing Sergei Magnitsky’s death;
 – Indi­vid­u­als who con­spired to com­mit tax fraud against the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion through a scheme tar­get­ing Her­mitage;
 – Spouses, sons, daugh­ters or par­ents of the same individuals.

Finan­cial Sanc­tions: The Sec­re­tary of Trea­sury shall freeze and pro­hibit all trans­ac­tions of prop­erty or invest­ments in United States finan­cial insti­tu­tions by indi­vid­u­als con­nected to Magnitsky’s death or the tax fraud scheme.

Ter­mi­na­tion: This Act is lifted when the Sec­re­taries of State and Trea­sury cer­tify to Con­gress that the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion has:

- Con­ducted a thor­ough and impar­tial inves­ti­ga­tion in Magnitsky’s case and brought those respon­si­ble to jus­tice;
 – Taken steps to bring their crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and penal sys­tem into com­pli­ance with inter­na­tional stan­dards;
 – Strength­ened statu­tory whistle­blower pro­tec­tion;
 – Rec­og­nized the con­tri­bu­tion of Sergei Mag­nit­sky in the fight against cor­rup­tion and for the rule of law.

Notes to Editors

Sen­a­tor Ben­jamin Cardin (Demo­c­rat) is the chair­man of the US Helsinki Com­mis­sion, empow­ered to mon­i­tor human rights oblig­a­tions in OSCE mem­ber countries.

Con­gress­man James McGov­ern (Demo­c­rat) has been a mem­ber of the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives since 1997. Since his elec­tion, he has been rec­og­nized as an unri­valed sup­porter for jus­tice and fun­da­men­tal human rights. He serves as co-chair of the US Con­gres­sional Tom Lan­tos Human Rights Commission.

For a full list of the orig­i­nal 60 impli­cated Russ­ian offi­cials pub­lished by the US Helsinki Com­mis­sion: http://www.csce.gov/index.cfm?Fuseaction=Files.Download&FileStore_id=1744

Comments

3 Responses to “US Congress Introduce Magnitsky Visa Ban Law”

  1. Andrei on November 3rd, 2010 23:18

    I’m from Rus­sia.
    Thank you!
    These peo­ple should be ban­ished from enter­ing EU as well.
    Bet­ter still, they should go to jail for their crimes.

  2. Valentin on November 22nd, 2010 19:12

    Advise me please when the Bill of Sen­a­tor Cardin will be enacted?

  3. Diary of a Madwoman | The Kremlin Stooge on July 25th, 2011 03:23

    […] the list down a lit­tle. But it seems actu­ally to be pretty hard to find out who is on the list. This ref­er­ence does help­fully point out it […]

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