Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dead Tax Fraud Whistleblower Found Guilty By Corrupt Russian Court

Sergei Magnitsky

Widespread government corruption under Russian President Putin's led to conviction of dead tax fraud whistleblower.

By H. Nelson Goodson
July 11, 2013

Moscow, Russia - A Russian court found a dead defendant guilty. The judge read the verdict very quietly in a crowded courtroom full of reporters that only news camera crews with microphones setup near the judge could hear the verdict through headphones. The deceased whistleblower Attorney Sergei Magnitsky, 37, had accused high ranking Russian officials and police officers of a $230M widespread tax evasion and financial corruption scheme. Magnitsky's posthumously conviction closes the case, since he can't be sentence. It's the first time that a Russian court convicted a deceased defendant. 
Magnitsky who represented the London-based Hermitage Capitol Management (HCM) was arrested on frivolous charges for organized crime steming from a $27 million dollar tax evasion by HCM. The charges were brought up by the same government officials he accused of corruption. 
Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison on November 16, 2009 after enduring torture for months and a lack of medical treatment.
While working for HCM, Magnitsky uncovered widespread corruption by Russian government officials and police. He reported the organized government corruption by Russian officials to higher government authorities, but to keep him from testifying arrested him on frivolous charges.
Magnitsky's boss, William Browder was also found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison. Browder resides in London and was on trial in absentia. Browder's attorney says, it was shameful for the Russian court to convict a deceased defendant and that he will appeal Browder's conviction. 
Browder from London vowed to continue to seek justice for Magnitsky and bring those involved in Magnitsky's death to justice.
Browder helped Magnitsky to uncover the corruption and tried to get him out of country, but Magnitsky wanted to stay in Russia.
Last December, President Barack H. Obama signed the Magnitsky Act, which denied Russian officials accused of corruption in the Magnitsky case to be denied U.S. Visas and froze any assets they had in the country. In return, Russian Vladimir Putin signed into law prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian orphans. Magnitsky's death including photos released showed he was severely tortured, but Putin says, Magnitsky died of natural causes.
Putin's lack of action to investigate Magnitsky's death indicates that widespread corruption continues in his term. 
A previous documentary exposed many Russian officials leaving in luxury homes, compounds and driving expensive vehicles compared to their salaries as government officials. 

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