On 27th July, the House of Commons Library issued a briefing saying that stronger legislation providing for sanctions against corrupt officials who commit gross human rights abuse has been passed.  It explains that Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who uncovered large-scale tax fraud. While working for Hermitage Capital, a firm based in London and run by the US-born financier Bill Browder (now a UK citizen), he discovered that millions of dollars of Hermitage tax payments had been syphoned off into the pockets of Russian officials. He was arrested but refused to withdraw his testimony and died in 2009, after mistreatment in jail.  A Magnitsky Act that named the Russians involved was passed by the US Congress in 2012.  It was later broadened to become in 2016 the Global Magnitsky Act, applying to gross human rights abusers anywhere.  Other countries including Canada, Lithuania and Estonia have introduced their own versions of the legislation. The briefing says that there have been questions about the definition of ‘gross human rights abuse’ and it has been suggested that powers to sanction gross human rights abusers are already there in existing UK legislation.  However, 2 major pieces of legislation to have ‘Magnitsky’ elements added to them: the proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (by means of the Criminal Finances Act 2017) and the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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