Statement in Response to Representative Dana Rohrabacher’s Remarks at the House Foreign Affairs Committee Mark-up on Global Magnitsky

May 19, 2016


For Immediate distribution

Statement in Response to Representative Dana Rohrabacher’s Remarks at the House Foreign Affairs Committee Mark-up on Global Magnitsky


19 May 2016 – On 18 May 2016, the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee passed the Global Magnitsky bill, which creates consequences for corrupt officials and human rights abusers around the world in the form of visa bans and asset freezes.


During the mark-up of the bill, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, from Orange County, California, proposed an amendment to exclude Magnitsky’s name from the title of the bill. To justify his amendment, Congressman Rohrabacher referred to a “confusing situation” and “serious questions” that “Magnitsky was being held [in Russian detention] because the Russian Government knew that there was $230 million of tax liability that they did not have the funds, that Mr Browder, that was his tax liability.


Congressman Rohrabacher’s remarks imply that Hermitage did not pay the US$230 million in taxes to the Russian government, and the Russian government was concerned about recovering these funds from the start. These claims are wrong, and are contradicted by the facts and publicly available documents, including:


(i) Documentary evidence that the US$230 million in taxes had been paid by the Hermitage Fund’s Russian companies to the Russian government in 2006,

ii) Documentary evidence that those US$230 million were stolen a year later through a massive fraud perpetrated by a Russian criminal organisation comprising Russian officials, who stole Hermitage companies and then approved in one day the wire transfers of US$230 million away from the Russian treasury to accounts opened by known Russian criminals to a bank owned by a convicted Russian criminal;

(iii) Documentary evidence that Russian authorities ignored Hermitage’s original reports and complaints about the US$230 million fraud,

(iv) Documentary evidence that the Russian authorities did not look for the stolen money, and instead organised retaliatory criminal cases against Hermitage’s Russian lawyers including Sergei Magnitsky.

The facts of the US$230 million fraud abetted by Russian officials are described in contemporaneous complaints filed by Hermitage, as well as in testimonies given by Sergey Magnitsky naming the perpetrators, bank statements provided by whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy showing the acquisition of multi-million dollar properties and cash going to accounts of and for the benefit of Russian officials involved with the US$230 million fraud,  millions of dollars in assets and lavish lifestyles of Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky’s testimony for their role in the US$230 million fraud, and, most recently, the Panama Papers’ leak showing some of the stolen US$230 million reaching the corporate account of Sergei Roldugin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Congressman Rohrabacher’s remarks are also contradicted by findings of independent authoritative bodies, including the Council of Europe, who conducted a year-long independent investigation of the Magnitsky case, and summarized its conclusions in a detailed report adopted in January 2014, called “Refusing Impunity for the Killers of Sergei Magnitsky.” The reportfound the existence in Russia of a “massive cover-up involving senior officials of the competent ministries, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee and even certain courts” and urged that “the cover-up must be reversed and the true culprits must be held to account.


In support of his remarks against Browder, Congressman Rohrabacher brought up two articles which presented attacks on Browder by the legal defense team of Denis Katsyv, the son of a Russian official, who is unsuccessfully trying to appeal a US court order and unfreeze US$14 million of his assets seized under the US Government’s money laundering and civil forfeiture action in relation to the Magnitsky case. The U.S. Department of Justice has described Katsyv’s allegations in relation to William Browder as “false,”“wild”, and “untrue,” and his conduct – as “egregious” and “inexcusable.”


Congressman Rohrabacher also criticized Browder for threatening legal action against NBC. The story he is referring to was an attempt by NBC’s reporter Ken Dilanian to repeat allegations from Katsyv’s team that Sergei Magnitsky wasn’t beaten in custody and was never a whistle-blower. Both claims were in contradiction to publicly available evidence from the Russian Government. Prominent Russian human rights defenders, Ludmila Alexeeva and Valery Borschev, who personally investigated the Magnitsky case, spoke out against Ken Dilanian’s attempt to misrepresent key facts about the Magnitsky’s case in public statements and in an open letter to NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke. Ken Dilanian had previously allowed his sources to influence or write his content.


After Rohrabacher’s intervention, the House Foreign Affairs Committee subsequently voted to reject his amendment and passed the Global Magnitsky bill, which will now be up for a vote on the House floor. The date of the vote is not known yet.


The Global Magnitsky bill is named after Sergei Magnitsky, Hermitage’s lawyer who in 2007-2008 uncovered a massive fraud perpetrated by Russian officials and organised criminals to steal US$230 million that the three companies of the Hermitage Fund had paid to the Russian government in profit tax a year before, in 2006.  Sergei Magnitsky testified about the fraud, named officials involved, was then arrested by implicated officials, kept in custody without trial for 358 days in torturous conditions, denied family visits and medical care, and was killed on 16 November 2009 at the age of 37, leaving a mother, a wife and two children.


In 2010, Sergei Magnitsky was posthumously awarded by Transparency International, a global anti-corruption organisation, with ‘Integrity Award’ in recognition of his stance against Russian corruption and official abuse.


For more information, please contact:


Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777





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