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BLL Instructed in Magnitsky Case

Acting on behalf of Bill Browder and Hermitage Capital, BLL has been instructed to draft an amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill presently being debated in Parliament which would establish a Magnitsky-style clause in the UK.

If the amendment is passed, persons who commit gross human rights abuses against those who dare to speak out against illegal activity would be the subject of a designation order made by a High Court Judge which would freeze their UK assets and provide the foundation for civil recovery proceedings under Part 5 of the proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The clause would form part of a wider push to erode the UK’s image as a haven for the wealth of international criminals and State sponsored gangsters. In 2012, the US passed similar legislation.

A copy of the clause is available here.

In addition, BLL’s Lead Counsel Jonathan Fisher QC has prepared an Opinion, with the assistance of BBL’s Senior Associate Anita Clifford, which concludes as follows:

  1. “There is a strong public interest in ending the use of the UK as a haven for the wealth of gross human rights abusers perpetrated on a victim who has exposed wrongdoing. At present, there is insufficient legal machinery to enable this objective to be achieved.
  2. A tightly focused amendment to the existing provisions of Part 5 of POCA would serve this purpose, and I have drafted the provision in Annex A to this effect.
  3. If sufficient procedural safeguards are put in place, there are strong arguments in support of a Magnitsky framework which would be capable of satisfying the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Convention”.

A copy of Jonathan’s Opinion is available here.

Founded by Jonathan Fisher QC, one of the UK's leading barristers in white collar crime cases, Bright Line Law is a barrister law firm providing expert specialist advisory, advocacy, litigation, policy, and strategic services. Bright Line Law is authorised by the Bar Standards Board.

Jonathan is ranked as a leading barrister in Band 1 for Financial Crime and Proceeds of Crime cases by the internationally recognised law directory, Chambers & Partners UK. He is also ranked in the legal directories as a leading barrister for financial services, fraud, and tax cases.


Sergei Magnitsky died on 16 November 2009 after he was tortured in Matrosskaya Trishina Prison in Moscow. He was 37 years old. A lawyer and auditor who worked for an American law firm in Moscow, Magnitsky discovered evidence that tax officials from the Russian Interior Ministry had unlawfully used three companies belonging to his London-based client, Hermitage Fund, to obtain a fraudulent tax refund of 5.4 billion rubles (US $230 million). After referring the corruption investigation to the Russian State Investigative Committee, Magnitsky testified against two Interior Ministry officials. Approximately one month after his testimony, on 24 November 2008, Magnitsky was suddenly arrested at his home on charges of tax evasion and taken into custody. Magnitsky died in custody on 16 November 2009. The prison in which he was held declined to order an autopsy. In Russia’s first posthumous criminal trial, on 11 July 2013 Magnitsky was convicted of tax evasion.

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The views expressed in this article represent those of the author and not Bright Line Law.

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