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Russia's top prosecutor asks US attorney general to explore rationale for Magnitsky Act

October 24, 2017, 15:46 UTC+3

According to Yuri Chaika, the act in question had been adopted without any reason, while it had been lobbied by some interested parties

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US attorney general, Jeff Sessions

US attorney general, Jeff Sessions

© AP Photo/Susan Walsh

SIMFEROPOL, October 24. /TASS/. Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika has sent a letter to the new US attorney general, requesting a probe into the justification of the Magnitsky Act.

Chaika has told reporters that the act in question had been adopted without any reason, while it had been lobbied by some interested parties. "From our standpoint, there is every reason to say that the act does not have any foundation and was adopted at the initiative of some criminal persons," the Russian prosecutor general pointed out.

According to Chaika, Moscow has data proving that more than $1 bln was transferred from Russia to companies affiliated with American-British financier William Browder.

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was passed by the US Congress and signed by then-President Barack Obama in December 2012. The law particularly specified sanctions against a number of Russian officials, including law enforcement officers, believed by Washington to have played a role in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an auditor at the Hermitage Capital Management company, who died in a Moscow detention center in November 2009. According to the Hermitage Capital sources, the auditor died as he had been denied medical assistance.

The act envisages sanctioning Russian officials whom the US considers to be responsible for human rights violations. It particularly allows the US government to freeze assets and ban visas for officials.

Criminal case against Browder

Chaika has requested the new US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to launch a criminal case against William Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management.

"I have just sent two letters to my counterpart, the new US attorney general. The first letter contains a request to launch a criminal case against the Ziff brothers and Mr. Browder, while the second concerns the Magnitsky Act," Chaika said in a speech broadcast by the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

Chaika said he did not rule out that the United Kingdom might extradite Hermitage Capital founder William Browder to the US authorities for bringing him to criminal liability.

"There is, probably, a chance for the extradition of Browder from the United Kingdom to the United States for bringing him to criminal liability," the chief prosecutor said in response to a question about whether Browder’s extradition was possible.

"It is no accident that he has changed his citizenship - he was a US citizen and did not pay taxes, In order to evade taxes, he assumed UK citizenship. Now he is a UK citizen, believing, perhaps, that the UK does not extradite anyone. He will feel calmer there," Chaika added.

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