DANIEL LEBLANC, 27 October 2016
Investigators have tracked millions of dollars associated with an elaborate tax fraud in Russia to bank accounts in Canada, bolstering their call for Ottawa to adopt legislation to freeze the assets of corrupt foreign officials.
Anglo-American financier Bill Browder and a team of investigators and lawyers compiled the data on the transfers of the funds, which indicate a clear Canadian connection to a $230-million (U.S.) swindle in 2007 by Russian officials who used his Russian-based hedge fund, Hermitage Capital Management.
Sergei Magnitsky, a legal adviser for Hermitage, was allegedly tortured and died in a Russian prison in 2009 after exposing the fraud to Russian authorities. Since then, Mr. Browder has helped international authorities track and freeze $43-million (U.S.) in assets related to the fraud, and persuaded governments to take action against Russian officials he says are engaged in the fraud and the cover-up of Mr. Magnitsky’s death.
In 2012, the United States adopted the Magnitsky Act, which freezes assets and bans visas for Russians who violate human rights.
While Canadian political parties are in favour of a Canadian version of the law, the current government has refused, despite strong support inside the Liberal caucus.