Magnitsky Act of 2012

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The Magnitsky Act of 2012, commonly referred to as the Russian Sanctions bill is named for Serge Magnitsky, an investigator who was allegedly starved and murdered on the 357 day of a 365-day sentence while in a Russian prison. His employer, Bill Browder, is a billionaire global investor who beginning in the mid 1990s made very large investments in the Russian Federation. Browder at one time was a good friend of Vladimir Putin. Browder had invested about $230 million with Russian oligarchs, however by the 2010s suspected fraudulent accounting after sustaining massive losses. Browder sent Magnitsky to investigate, but instead was thrown in prison and accused of owing taxes for the company he represented which was trying to recover its losses.[1]

Browder contacted Sen. John McCain with the story and a list of very powerful Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin whom Browder accused of stealing his money. When the Crimean annexation occurred, McCain used Browder's list to create a "targeted sanctions" list of specific individuals, oligarchs, and businesses Browder accused of ripping off his money who now, by the Magnitsky Act, are blacklisted by all US citizens and businesses from doing business with until Browder's money is recovered. Among them is a company called Prevezon which figures prominently.

Throughout the Trump-Russia scandal the Magnitsky Act was used as a pretext to justify the Obama administration's illegal domestic spying on political opponents.

Trump-Russia allegations

Main article: Trump-Russia hoax

On March 31, 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley inquired of the Justice Dept. about a complaint filed in July 2016 alleging FusionGPS, authors of the Steele dossier, acting as an unregistered agent of Russia in a lobbying campaign to rewrite and overturn the Magnitsky Act, a law named for a whistleblower who was allegedly murdered while in custody in Russia. The law imputed sanctions against certain Russian officials. Grassley wrote that when FusionGPS reportedly was acting as an unregistered agent of Russian interests, it simultaneously was creating the Steele dossier of unsubstantiated allegations of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians. The Obama Justice Dept. had done nothing since July 2016 to respond to the complaint of FusionGPS' violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The committee is also seeking to determine the extent to which the FBI relied on the Steele dossier in its investigation. Chairman Grassley has requested documentation from Fusion GPS as to who hired and paid them, when Steele was hired, how the FBI got involved and whether Fusion GPS was aware of the FBI paying Steele.[2][3] Fox News reports both a Senate and House committee are investigating the FBI for leaks and civil rights violations.[4] Adam Housley reports "The person who did the unmasking is "very well known, very high up, very senior, in the intelligence world & is not in the FBI,"[5] and that "unmasking the names and then spreading the names was for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security."[6][7]

See also