Russia and US Plan Joint Investigation Into Magnitsky List

Magnitsky The Moscow Times reports that US and Russian agencies are planning a joint investigation into "a number of those targeted by the Magnitsky Act."

The agencies are reportedly looking into money laundering and embezzlement cases against individuals accused of stealing US$230 million in Russia's largest-ever tax scam, uncovered by banker and lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2008. When Magnitsky exposed the crime, Russian authorities responded by jailing him. He remained in jail, abused and neglected, while Russian law enforcement attempted to force him to confess to the crime he had uncovered.

Magnitsky died in Moscow's notorious Butyrka prison in 2009. Following his death, the United States passed the Magnitsky Act prohibiting 18 Russians believed responsible for the tax scam and subsequent cover-up from entering the US or using American banks. Russia decried the “Magnitsky List” of banned individuals, which became a diplomatic hurdle between the two nations.

Moscow responded by creating a list of Americans barred from entering Russia for practices in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba and the trials of Russian smugglers Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko. The list includes David Addington, Chief of Staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Southern District of New York District Attorney Preet Bharara.

Now unnamed sources have told the Russian news agency Interfax that "A delegation from the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigations will soon arrive in Moscow to hold talks on the issue and several other unspecified criminal cases."

According to Voice of Russia political commentator Dmitry Babich, "The co-operation between Russian and US law enforcement bodies is very possible and natural, but the political atmosphere doesn't facilitate this kind of collaboration."

American authorities began a process in September to seize assets from Prevezon Limited, a real estate company revealed by OCCRP research to have laundered the Magnitsky money. Bharara, the US district attorney named on the Russian blacklist, is prosecuting the case against Prevezon.