Magnitsky Act of 2012

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The Magnitsky Act of 2012, commonly referred to as the Russian Sanctions bill was sponsored by Sen. John McCain at the urging of an ex-United States citizen and billionaire who renounced his citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Background

All Russian ties lay with Hillary ClintonUranium One, the Russia Reset and Bill Clinton’s $500,000 Moscow speech. Meanwhile, President Trump promised, and followed through on, a program of national energy self-sufficiency. By 2018 U.S. oil production was booming. This is a direct threat to Russia’s primary source of cash.

The Magnitsky Act denies Visas and freezes the assets of Russians who are involved in human rights abuses. It has proven to be a problem for many Russian oligarchs and officials, including Vladimir Putin. The Russian government would dearly love to see the Magnitsky Act repealed.

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton opposed passage of the Magnitsky Act—a position coinciding with Bill Clinton being paid $500,000 for a Moscow speech on June 29, 2010. While the Magnitsky bill was being formulated, her State Department was asked by lawmakers to deny visas to the Russian officials who were implicated in the Magnitsky matter. Clinton’s State Department denied the request. The Russian officials who paid for Bill Clinton’s Moscow speech would have been barred from entering the United States if Clinton’s State Department had not denied the request.

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.

Bill Browder

The law is named for Serge Magnitsky, a lawyer and accountant who was allegedly starved and murdered on the 357th day of a 365-day sentence while in a Russian prison. His employer, Bill Browder, is the grandson of Stalinist operative Earl Browder. Bill Browder renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1998 to avoid paying U.S. taxes and became a UK citizen.

Browder made his billions looting the former Soviet Union.[1] With the collapse of the Soviet command and control economy, bankrupt Soviet government economic enterprises were privatized and sold off, attracting outside foreign investment. At the time of the privatization movement, the only people in Russia with economic resources and foreign contacts were leftwing communist party bosses. Browder, working for Wall Street firms, managed very large investments and originally was a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

Browder invested about $230 million on behalf of Wall Street investors and some of his own money in the supposed new free market of the Russian Federation. By the 2010s, Browder accused the Russians of fraudulent accounting after sustaining big losses. Putin however, claimed Browder owed massive taxes after looting the country.

Browder hired Magnitsky to investigate his losses, but Magnitsky was thrown in prison and accused of being part of Browder's tax avoidance scheme.[2]

Targetted Sanctions, a Moscow art exhibit responds to passage of the Magnitsky Act.

Browder contacted Sens. John McCain and Ben Cardin with a tear-jerker story and a list of powerful Russian oligarchs close to 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 whom Browder accused.

The Magnitsky Act blacklists these Russian individuals and entities from doing business with any American individuals or entities until Browder's money is recovered. Among them is a company called Prevezon, a Manhattan real estate holding company with assets allegedly stolen from Browder.

Jonathan Winer

Jonathan Winer was one of the early architects of the Magnitsky Act as he notes in an article from The Daily Beast:

“When Browder consulted me, he wanted to know what he could do to hold those involved in the case accountable. I suggested creating a new law to impose economic and travel sanctions on human-rights violators involved in grand corruption. Browder decided this could secure a measure of justice for Magnitsky. He initiated a campaign that led to the enactment of the Magnitsky Act. Soon other countries enacted their own Magnitsky Acts, including Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and most recently, the United Kingdom.”

Russian authorities are still pursuing a case against Browder. As Winer notes, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, allows Russian prosecutors to ask the U.S. Attorney General to arrange for Americans to testify in criminal cases—with one significant exception—as noted by Winer:

“The attorney general can provide no such assistance in a politically motivated case. I know this because I was among those who helped put it there. Back in 1999, when we were negotiating the agreement with Russia, I was the senior State Department official managing U.S.-Russia law-enforcement relations.”
As Diana Johnstone noted,
“Winer’s clever treaty is a perfect Catch-22. The treaty doesn’t apply to a case if it is politically motivated, and if it is Russian, it must be politically motivated.”

FusionGPS

Natalia Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer hired to represent Prevezon in an asset forfeiture settlement; while in the United States settling the case, Veselnitskaya hired FusionGPS to engage in unregisteted lobbying to repeal Russian sanctions (the Magnitsky Act).[3] Veselnitskaya also took part in an entrapment sting targeting Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort conducted by FusionGPS and the FBI, to frame the 2016 Trump campaign as colluding with Russia to violate sanctions. Bill Browder testified July 27, 2017,
Sen. Graham: “So, I just want to absorb that for a moment. The group that did the dossier on President Trump hired this British spy [ Chris Steele ], wound up getting it to the FBI. You believe they were working for the Russians?”

Browder: “And in the Spring and Summer of 2016 they were receiving money indirectly from [Katsyv] a senior Russian government official.”[4]

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.[5][6] Fox News reports both a Senate and House committee are investigating the FBI for leaks and civil rights violations.[7] 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,"[8] and that "unmasking the names and then spreading the names was for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security."[9][10]

See also

References

  1. In a review of New York Times reporter Anne Williamson's book, Contagion: The Betrayal of Liberty -- Russia and the United States in the 1990, Paul Likoudis writes: "According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it than [Jeffrey] Sachs' "shock therapy" -- a plan that empowered the degenerate, third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the deeds of Russia's mightiest state-owned industries -- including the giant gas, oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world's largest paper, iron, and steel factories, the world's richest gold, silver, diamond, and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. -- who, in turn, sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies. These third-generation Bolsheviks -- led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition -- became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors."
    HOW CLINTON AND COMPANY AND THE BANKERS PLUNDERED RUSSIA IN THE '90s, Paul Likoudis, January 2, 2016
  2. https://dailycaller.com/2017/07/10/senate-panel-to-hear-testimony-from-businessman-targeted-by-trump-dossier-firm/
  3. "to remove the name “Magnitsky” from the Global Magnitsky Act, delay the bills passage, and cast doubt on the Justice Dept.’s version of events prior to the passage of the Magnitsky Act. The defrauded complaintant referred to Simpson, who was hired by the Clinton campaign and DNC as "a professional smear campaigner.” “Glenn Simpson knowingly spread false information on behalf of people connected to the Russian government to try to protect Russian torturers and murderers from consequences.” https://dailycaller.com/2017/01/13/exclusive-oppo-researcher-behind-trump-dossier-is-linked-to-pro-kremlin-lobbying-effort/
  4. https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/07-26-17%20Browder%20Testimony.pdf
  5. https://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/complaint-firm-behind-dossier-former-russian-intel-officer-joined-lobbying-effort
  6. https://dailycaller.com/2017/03/31/trump-dossier-financier-accused-of-improper-work-for-kremlin/
  7. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/28/fbi-scrutinized-by-congress-over-probe-into-alleged-russia-trump-link.html
  8. https://mobile.twitter.com/adamhousley/status/847858385798049793?s=09
  9. https://mobile.twitter.com/adamhousley/status/847859134888239105
  10. McCabe, Neil W. (March 31, 2017). Fox News: Senior Obama Intelligence Official Unmasked Trump Associates. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 1, 2017.