US Appeals Court Sets a Precedent Punishing Baker Hostetler Lawyers for Switching Sides from Crime Victims to Perpetrators in the Magnitsky Case

October 17, 2016


For Immediate distribution

US Appeals Court Sets a Precedent Punishing Baker Hostetler Lawyers for Switching Sides from Crime Victims to Perpetrators in the Magnitsky Case


17 October 2016 – In a precedent-setting decision, today the US Court of Appeals has disqualified US lawyers – Baker Hostetler and its partner John Moscow – from representing alleged Russian money launderers in the Magnitsky case.


“This case presents the “extraordinary circumstances” necessary to grant a writ of mandamus. …we …instruct the district court to enter an order disqualifying John Moscow and Baker Hostetler,” said the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the ruling issued today.


“The issue involved is significant and will aid in the administration of justice,” said the US Courts of Appeals.


“This case implicates a significant and novel question of law regarding the rights of non-party clients,” said the US Court of Appeals.


The US Court of Appeals said in its decision:


“The court has recognized that crime witnesses, as well as witnesses, possess legitimate interests in criminal proceedings that may support disqualification… For these purposes, we see no reason why a non-party victim is not entitled to the same solicitude as a non-party witness.”


Prevezon, a Cyprus company owned by the son of senior Russian official, is alleged by the US Department of Justice to have laundered proceeds from the US$230 million fraud against Hermitage, uncovered by Hermitage’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.


In 2008, Hermitage hired Baker Hostetler and John Moscow to investigate the US$230 million fraud and bring its perpetrators and beneficiaries to justice through pursuing prosecutions and asset freezes by the US Department of Justice. Hermitage also sought Baker Hostetler’s help in seeking Magnitsky’s release from the Russian police custody.


In 2013, in a spectacular breach of duty to the former client, Baker Hostetler switched sides and started to act for Prevezon, an alleged beneficiary of the US$230 million fraud in the lawsuit in New York brought by the US Department of Justice, and began attacking Hermitage, its former client, as part of Prevezon’s strategy.


Following a review of the court record, the US Court of Appeals has now instructed the district court to disqualify John Moscow and Baker Hostetler for breaching its duty of loyalty and confidentiality to their former client, Hermitage, the victim of the Russian $230 million fraud.


Reciting previous US court rulings, the US Court of Appeals reaffirmed that “the preservation of the confidences between lawyer and client “touches upon vital concerns of the legal profession and the public’s interest in the scrupulous administration of justice.


The US Court of Appeals has also upheld the rights of crime victims in seeing that their lawyers do not switch sides to represent crime perpetrators:


The petition here also implicates the government’s ability to procure assistance from crime victims. If crime victims fear that the attorneys they hire may turn against them, they may be less likely to assist government in its investigations.


In 2008, Hermitage’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky uncovered the US$230 million fraud and testified about the complicity of Russian officials in it. He was falsely arrested by the Russian Interior Ministry, detained for 358 days without trial, tortured and killed in Russian police custody at the age of 37. After his death, Russian authorities posthumously accused Sergei Magnitsky of the crime he had uncovered and exonerated all officials. Hermitage’s global justice campaign has resulted in identifying beneficiaries of funds laundered from the crime Sergei Magnitsky uncovered and a number of proceedings around the world. Prevezon is subject to money laundering proceedings opened in the USA and Switzerland.


The events of this case are described in the New-York Times best-seller “Red Notice” by William Browder and in a series of campaign videos on Youtube channel “Russian Untouchables.”


For more information, please contact:


Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777






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