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British High Court Judge Delivers Seminal Ruling Voiding the UK Recognition of a Russian Bankruptcy in the Magnitsky Case; Russian Liquidator to Pay William Browder and His Colleagues £1.6 Million

December 5, 2017

 

Press Release

For Immediate Distribution

 

British High Court Judge Delivers Seminal Ruling Voiding the UK Recognition of a Russian Bankruptcy in the Magnitsky Case; Russian Liquidator to Pay William Browder and His Colleagues £1.6 Million

 

5 December 2017 – Today, the Chancellor of the High Court of England and Wales has voided the recognition of a Russian bankruptcy at the centre of the Magnitsky case, which targeted William Browder and his colleagues.

 

The Chancellor ruled that the Russian liquidator, Kirill Nogotkov, was in breach of his duty to the court, finding his conduct “inexcusable,” and “quite unthinkable” for an English insolvency practitioner.

 

The judgment was handed down by the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Geoffrey Vos, who is the head of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.

 

Mr Nogotkov has agreed to pay £1.6 million in legal costs to William Browder and his colleagues on an indemnity basis.

 

The action by Mr Nogotkov was one of many attempts by the Russian authorities to attack Mr Browder and his colleagues outside Russia and to seek legal assistance from other countries. Today’s decision from the UK High Court brings a welcomed end to this latest attempt,” said a representative of the Global Magnitsky Justice movement.

 

The proceedings in the UK began in July 2016 when Mr Nogotkov obtained a UK court order recognising the Russian bankruptcy of Dalnyaya Step, a former Russian company of the Hermitage Fund, which was at the centre of the posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky and the in absentia trial of Mr Browder four years ago in Russia. The Russian authorities have since revived Dalnyaya Step, eight years after it had been dissolved, to continue to target William Browder and his colleagues.

 

To obtain recognition in the UK, Mr Nogotkov relied on the international Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations (CBIR) which allow for the recognition of a foreign bankruptcy in the UK, except in cases which raise public policy considerations.

 

In his 2016 application to the UK court, however, Mr Nogotkov did not tell the UK court about any public policy considerations or the connection of the case to Mr Magnitsky and Mr Browder.

 

Lord Justice Vos found that the case involved serious public policy issues which should have been disclosed and made his ruling necessary.

 

In my judgment, where there are serious allegations of wrongdoing, as there are here, and where the UK Government has already made clear its views about connected aspects of the case, this court cannot stand by without deciding whether or not there has indeed been inappropriate conduct.

 

Shortly before the High Court hearing, Mr Nogotkov had agreed to pay the legal costs of Mr Browder and his colleagues on an indemnity basis, in the sum of £1.6 million. Courts in the UK rarely award indemnity costs as a punitive sanction in exceptional cases involving abnormal and unreasonable conduct by a party.

 

Lord Justice Vos said in the judgment that Mr Nogotkov had appeared to try to “buy off” judicial scrutiny of his conduct with the offer of a substantial cost payment to Mr Browder. The Chancellor said such conduct would be “unthinkable” for an English insolvency practitioner.

 

Mr Nogotkov has indeed attempted to buy off the determination of the FFD [Full and Frank Disclosure] issue, by paying a large amount in costs in somewhat dubious circumstances,” the Chancellor says in the judgment.

 

Mr Nogotkov’s agreement to pay indemnity costs out of the estate (as he originally intended) smacked of an attempt to protect his own reputation at the expense of the bankrupt estate. Such a course would be quite unthinkable for an English insolvency practitioner in an English insolvency,” the judgment says.

 

In a 28-page judgment handed down today, the Chancellor found that the Russian liquidator breached the duty of full and frank disclosure owed to the court, by failing to tell the court that the Russian bankruptcy of Dalnyaya Step was connected to the Russian state campaign against Mr Browder and Mr Magnitsky, including the posthumous trial of Mr Magnitsky.

 

The history of the Russian state’s actions against the Hermitage Parties were material facts of which the English court needed to be fully and fairly informed,” says the judgment.

 

My summary of the facts makes it abundantly clear that the English court ought to have been told that public policy issues might be engaged as a result of the political background I have described. In any event, Mr Nogotkov’s inquiries about the Russian criminal proceedings meant that he ought to have been aware of the UK Government’s responses to previous requests for assistance in relation to the same tax liabilities of [DalnyayaStep], the same Hermitage Parties and Mr Magnitsky. His failure to alert the court to the public policy issues and the political background was inexcusable,” says The Right Honourable Lord Justice Vos in the judgment.

 

Today’s judgment is a demonstration of the strength of the rule of law in the face of the repeated abuse from the Russian state and its agents,” said William Browder, leader of the MagnitskyJustice movement.

 

Mr Nogotkov is a Russian insolvency practitioner appointed at the end of 2015 by the Russian authorities to Dalnyaya Step, which itself was resurrected eight years after it ceased to exist, on the orders of the Russian Interior Ministry as part of the Russian state-sponsored attack and in absentia  criminal proceedings in Russia against Mr Browder and his colleagues.

 

Last year, Mr Nogotkov applied to register the Dalnyaya Step bankruptcy proceeding in the UK. Mr Nogotkov did not disclose to the court the connection of the bankruptcy case to Mr Browder and Mr Magnitsky and possible public policy issues.

 

Bill Browder is the leader of the Global Magnitsky Justice movement. Sergei Magnitsky testified about the complicity of Russian officials in a sophisticated US$230 million fraud. He was then arrested by some of the implicated officials and killed in Russian Interior Ministry custody at the age of 37. Since then Mr Browder has been advocating for new legislation around the world to sanction those involved in Mr Magnitsky’s death and the US$230 million fraud he had exposed. The USA was the first country to pass the legislation in December 2012. The UK, Canada, Estonia and Lithuania have all passed Magnitsky-style legislation.

 

Sir Geoffrey Vos was appointed Chancellor of the High Court of England and Wales on 24 October 2016. He holds responsibility for the conduct of business in the Business and Property Courts. Prior to this role, he was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2013 and acted as President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary from June 2014 to June 2016.

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777

e-mail: info@lawandorderinrussia.org

www.lawandorderinrussia.org

billbrowder.com

twitter.com/Billbrowder

 

Summary of the judgment by SIR GEOFFREY VOS, CHANCELLOR OF THE HIGH COURT in In Re Dalnyaya Step LLC:

http://russian-untouchables.com/docs/DSL%20approved%20Summary%20F.pdf

 

This summary is provided to assist in understanding the Court’s decision.

The full judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document.



Six UK and International Activists Celebrated Today at Magnitsky Awards on the 8th Anniversary of the Murder of Sergei Magnitsky

November 17, 2017

Press Release

For Immediate Distribution

 

Six UK and International Activists Celebrated Today at Magnitsky Awards on the 8th Anniversary of the Murder of Sergei Magnitsky

 

17 November 2017 – Yesterday, six prominent politicians and activists were honoured at the Magnitsky Awards which were held on the eighth anniversary of the Murder of Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed a US$230 million fraud perpetrated by corrupt Russian officials and organized criminals.

 

The event, which was held in the presence of the Magnitsky family, celebrated the bravery of activists from across the world and offered support to all those who fight injustice.

 

“Today we’ve honoured the bravest and the most effective individuals who have made personal sacrifices and have shown themselves to be steadfast believers in the cause of justice,” said William Browder, leader of the Global Magnitsky Justice movement. “It is truly uplifting to be in the presence of such outstanding people who believe in and act for the common good every day.”

 

Baroness Helena Kennedy presented the Magnitsky Award for Campaigning Politician to Dominic Raab MP in recognition of his work spearheading the UK Magnitsky amendment which was passed earlier this year.

 

Geoffrey Robertson QC, a renowned human rights barrister, presented the Magnitsky Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights Law to Nikolai Gorokhov, lawyer for the Magnitsky family, for his fearless legal work seeking justice in Russia in spite of the grave risks to his safety.

 

Canadian MP James Bezan presented the Magnitsky Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Global Magnitsky Campaign Award to Marcus Kolga. Both Kolga and Bezan were successful in advancing and promoting the passage of the Magnitsky law in Canada this October.

 

Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Bjorn Engesland presented the Magnitsky Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism to Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist who has worked tirelessly to expose corruption in her home country of Azerbaijan.

 

Former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky presented the Magnitsky Award for Outstanding Russian Opposition Activist to Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian political activist who has been the subject of two attempts on his life. Kara-Murza has been instrumental in promoting Magnitsky Acts around the world.

 

Thor Halvorssen, President of the Human Rights Foundation, presented the Magnitsky Award for Outstanding Human Rights Activist to Valery Borschev, former head of the Moscow Public Oversight Commission, who was instrumental in investigating the details of Sergei Magnitsky’s detention and torture in custody in the first six weeks after his death in custody.

The awards committee this year comprised representatives from the Henry Jackson Society, Fair Trials International, the International Bar Association, Hermitage Capital Management Ltd, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the MacDonald-Laurier Institute and the Oslo Freedom Forum.

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777

e-mail: info@lawandorderinrussia.org

www.lawandorderinrussia.org

billbrowder.com

twitter.com/Billbrowder

 



US Congressman Rohrabacher and Congressional Staffer Behrends Named for Violations of US Treasury Sanctions Under Magnitsky Act

July 24, 2017

Press Release

For Immediate Distribution

US Congressman Rohrabacher and Congressional Staffer Behrends Named for Violations of US Treasury Sanctions Under Magnitsky Act

24 July 2017 – A new complaint has been filed with the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) naming US Congressman Rohrabacher and his senior staffer Paul Behrends for violations of Magnitsky sanctions.

The complaint filed with the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the US Treasury alleges that both individuals provided services to Russian Deputy General Prosecutor Victor Grin, a sanctioned individual under the Magnitsky Act.

Rohrabacher and Behrends met with Grin [a Russian official sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act] in Moscow in April 2016, and accepted material from Grin which Grin sought to have Rohrabacher use to undermine the Magnitsky Act… Rohrabacher and Behrends then repeatedly undertook a series of actions to undermine the Magnitsky Act …relying on talking points provided to them by Grin, with the apparent goal of securing the removal of Grin as an SDN [Sanctions Designated National] through means outside of the designated OFAC licensing process,” says the complaint filed with OFAC by Hermitage Capital Management on Friday, 21 July 2017.

The complaint states that Rohrabacher and Behrends met with Grin in April 2016 in Moscow to discuss his problems as a Sanctions Designated National (“SDN”) under the Magnitsky Act and agreed to take action to help him. Since that meeting, according to the complaint, Rohrabacher and Behrends took action, including delaying the consideration of the Global Magnitsky Act, repeating to members of Congress talking points from the paper provided to them by the sanctioned Russian official, made personal introductions for lobbyists advocating Russian government’s and Grin’s position against the Magnitsky Act on behalf of the 44 sanctioned Russian nationals. In addition, Rohrabacher and Behrends promoted the anti-Magnitsky film which was based on the material and information from the Sanctions Designated Nationals.

“They [these actions] constitute services provided to a SDN by U.S. persons in apparent violation of the Magnitsky Act sanctions which expressly forbid U.S. persons to provide such services,” says the complaint.

Deputy General Prosecutor of Russia Victor Grin played a central role in the cover up of the US$230 million crime exposed by Sergei Magnitsky. Victor Grin personally initiated two posthumous prosecutions against Sergei Magnitsky a year and a half after Sergei Magnitsky’s death, and exonerated officials implicated by Magnitsky in the US$230 million fraud.

Since  December 29, 2014, Victor Grin has been sanctioned under the US Magnitsky Act.

Dana Rohrabacher is a member of the U.S House of Representatives representing California’s 48th congressional district.

Paul Behrends has been employed in Congress since Q3 ’14, and has also been a staffer for House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

For more information, please contact:

 

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777

e-mail: info@lawandorderinrussia.org

www.lawandorderinrussia.org

billbrowder.com

twitter.com/Billbrowder

 

 

OFAC complaint

http://russian-untouchables.com/docs/OFAC%20complaint%20filed_Redacted.pdf

 



Baroness Helena Kennedy QC Introduces Magnitsky Visa Ban Legislation to the UK House of Lords

July 4, 2017

Press Release

For Immediate Distribution

 

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC Introduces Magnitsky Visa Ban Legislation to the UK House of Lords

 

4 July 2017 – Last week Baroness Helena Kennedy QC introduced the Magnitsky visa ban legislation at the House of Lords of the British parliament.
The new legislation will give the British government the power to deny entry into the UK to individuals who have been involved in gross human rights abuses as defined in section 241 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”).

 

The new legislation is entitled “Cancellation of UK Visas for Gross Human Rights Abuses Bill 2017.”

 

The bill complements the previous Magnitsky legislation passed earlier this year by the British Parliament which gives the British government new powers to freeze the UK assets of foreigners involved in gross human rights abuses and corruption.

 

On introducing the bill, Baroness Kennedy said:

 

“My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to enable the Secretary of State or an immigration officer to refuse entry or to vary or curtail leave to enter or remain already granted to a person who is non-UK or non- EEA national who is known to be or to have been involved in gross human rights abuses.”


“This Bill was inspired by Bill Browder’s campaigning for human rights and his efforts to secure justice for his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, whose life was cruelly ended in a Russian jail. This country has been too lax in its willingness to allow entry to rich human rights abusers from around the world. It has to stop. These torturers and violators of rights have to be denied impunity,”
 said Baroness Kennedy QC.

 

The legislation follows in the footsteps of the US Magnitsky Act which was adopted by the US Congress in December 2012. The Magnitsky Act adopted into law in the United States comprises two components – visa bans and asset freezes – and applies them to those involved in the Magnitsky case, including the criminal conspiracy he had uncovered, as well as in other gross human rights violations and acts against human rights defenders.

 

Baroness Kennedy QC is a member of the House of Lords, Head of Mansfield College, University of Oxford, and a leading human rights barrister.

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777

e-mail: info@lawandorderinrussia.org

www.lawandorderinrussia.org

billbrowder.com

twitter.com/Billbrowder

 

 



Nikolai Gorokhov Will Make a Third Attempt to Open Criminal Case Against Corrupt Russian Police Officers Who Covered Up Sergei Magnitsky’s Death in Custody

June 2, 2017

Press Release

For Immediate Distribution

 

Nikolai Gorokhov Will Make a Third Attempt to Open Criminal Case Against Corrupt Russian Police Officers Who Covered Up Sergei Magnitsky’s Death in Custody

2 June 2017 – Today, Nikolai Gorokhov, the lawyer for Sergei Magnitsky’s mother, will make a third attempt to open a criminal investigation into the abuse of office by officer Strizhov of the Investigative Committee in the Sergei Magnitsky death case and the cover-up of the US$230 million fraud that Mr Magnitsky had discovered and exposed in 2008 before he was tortured and murdered in police custody.

The court hearing is scheduled to take place at 4 pm at the Basmanny District Court in Moscow with judge Safina presiding.

The application to open an investigation into the abuse of office was originally filed by Mr Gorokhov with the Russian Investigative Committee in January 2017. The Investigative Committee refused to open an investigation. Mr Gorokhov then filed a complaint against this refusal, which was due to be heard on March 24, 2017. The hearing did not go ahead because of the Mr. Gorokhov’s plunge from his fourth floor apartment in suspicious circumstances.

At the postponed court hearing which was eventually held last week in Moscow, it was revealed that the Russian Investigative Committee refused to treat his complaint against officer Strizhov as a crime report.

The additional evidence submitted by Mr Gorokhov to the Investigative Committee remained unanswered, leading to the third application filed by Mr Gorokhov earlier this week, which will be heard today at the Basmanny District Court in Moscow.

The application by Mr Gorokhov relies on new records of emails and WhatsApp communications between associates of the Klyuev Organised Crime Group discussing the arrangements with Russian law enforcement officers for the cover-up and tampering of evidence in the Magnitsky case.

The leaked emails and WhatsApp messages identify the arrangements being made between Andrei Pavlov, a key member of the Klyuev Organised Crime Group, who took part in the US$230 million fraud, and investigator Strizhov of the Russian Investigative Committee, who was in charge of investigating Pavlov and others as part of the Magnitsky death investigation and the criminal conspiracy Magnitsky had uncovered.

In the communications, Andrei Pavlov advises ex Interior Ministry officer Oleg Urzhumtsev of the arrangement reached with investigator Strizhov and Interior Ministry officials. Pavlov says:

“Strizhov will come to an agreement with Ryabtsev [head of department “K” of the Interior Ministry’s Directorate of Economic Security and Fighting Corruption] on his own, but it is necessary that Mityaev (subordinate of Ryabtsev in department “K”) is all for it, like I know it all, I will help with everything. He will later be the one to submit the study to Strizhov.”

The communications refer to various officials and organized criminals under both real and assumed names and aliases, including “Bald-headed” and “The Great.”

The communications further reveal the intention of the Klyuev Organised Crime Group to disguise and conceal their active involvement in the evidence tampering and cover up efforts from lawyers for Magnitsky’s family and Hermitage. In one record of conversation, Andrei Pavlov explicitly tells ex Interior Ministry officer Urzhumtsev:

“Fxxk. Even if the study is appointed by Strizh [short for “Strizhov”], then Gorokhov [lawyer for Magnitsky’s mother] and Antipov [Hermitage’s lawyer] have to be notified of it, it would be clusterfxxk.”

Within a month of these arrangements, investigator Strizhov closed the Magnitsky death investigation citing the “absence of crime” and accused Sergei Magnitsky posthumously of being a perpetrator of the US$230 million fraud.

For more information, please contact:

 

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777

e-mail: info@lawandorderinrussia.org

www.lawandorderinrussia.org

billbrowder.com

twitter.com/Billbrowder

 

 

 



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