Norway: NGO Asks Prosecutor for Magnitsky Investigation

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) has filed an application in Norway to open an investigation into the 2009 death of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.

According to the Nordic Page newspaper, the human rights non-governmental organization NHC wants the Norwegian prosecutor’s office to investigate the role Russian Interior Ministry officer Oleg Silchenko may have had in the torture and death of Magnitsky.

In 2008, Magnitsky uncovered a massive US$ 230 million tax fraud in Russia that funneled money into offshore accounts, corrupt banks, and fake companies.

Russian lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky

Instead of being praised for his work, Magnitsky was accused of taking the money, jailed, and eventually died in prison from abuse and neglect, as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reported.

According to the Financial Times, NHC Deputy Secretary General Gunnar Ekelove-Slydal said, “Since there are no investigations in Russia, and there are such strong international calls for ending impunity in this case, someone has to do it.”

Norwegian law allows its courts to try human rights criminal cases even if the involved parties are from or in another country. Norway is one of the few countries in the world to allow this. 

In 2013, the Norwegian embassy in Russia said it had no plans for Magnitsky-related sanctions, reports the Nordic Page. However, it appears that interest in the case has recently increased.

On April 10th, Norwegian government offered William Browder—the co-founder of Hermitage Capital where Magnitsky worked, and a leading voice in the Magnitsky campaign—protection against Russia’s legal proceedings against him.

Browder was convicted of tax evasion by a Moscow court last year, reports the Financial Times. Browder says the case was politically motivated.

Other countries have also taken action against the Russian officials related to the death of Magnitsky.

In the United States,  the Magnitsky Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in December 2012, places visa and financial bans on Russian officials linked to his death.