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.

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.

Natalia Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer hired to represent Prevezon in an asset forfeiture settlement; while in the United States settling the case, Veselnitskaya was hired by 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.

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.[4][5] Fox News reports both a Senate and House committee are investigating the FBI for leaks and civil rights violations.[6] 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,"[7] and that "unmasking the names and then spreading the names was for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security."[8][9]

See also


  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."
  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.”
  9. McCabe, Neil W. (March 31, 2017). Fox News: Senior Obama Intelligence Official Unmasked Trump Associates. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 1, 2017.