Magnitsky affair: Russia has allowed suspected killers of a whistleblowing lawyer to escape with impunity, says damning report

Council of Europe investigation into death of tax specialist who uncovered a $230m fraud against the state rubbishes Russian version of events

Russia has allowed the suspected killers of a whistleblowing lawyer to escape with impunity and instituted a high-level “cover up” of corruption which the international community must do more to counter, according to a damning report.

A six-month investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky by the Council of Europe found that the Moscow authorities had mounted “belated, sluggish and contradictory” investigations into the death of the tax specialist who uncovered a $230m (£149m) fraud against the Russian state.

Mr Magnitsky, who was working for British hedgefund Hermitage Capital Management when he uncovered the fraud in 2008, was arrested by the same tax investigators he had accused and held for a year in Russian prisons before dying from a serious untreated health condition following a beating on the eve of his death.

The 41-page report by a Swiss MP stops short of naming Mr Magnitsky’s alleged killers but in a move which will further heighten diplomatic tensions over the case, it describes that case as “emblematic” of corruption and human rights abuses in Russia and calls on the international community to consider further measures to pressure Moscow into acting on the case.

The United States has already imposed visa restrictions and frozen assets of 60 Russian officials linked to the death of Mr Magnitsky, provoking a retaliatory ban from Moscow on American citizens adopting Russian children.

Andreas Gross, the author of the report, who is also head of the socialist group of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly, said: “In the interest of the Russian people themselves and their state, corrupt officials must not be allowed to plunder state property whilst brutally silencing those standing in their way, with impunity.”

The report documents how Mr Magnitsky was shuttled between different Russian prisons following his arrest in November 2008, becoming increasingly ill from pancreatitis which did not receive proper treatment. He died following his admission to Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina prison, where he was beaten with rubber truncheons and left untreated the day before he was found dead.

Mr Gross said: “There is no doubt that some of the causes of Mr Magnitsky’s death were created deliberately, by identifiable persons, others by negligence.”

He added: “Sergei Magnitsky had denounced a gigantic robbery whose victim was Russia herself. He died because he refused to give in to the pressure that mid-level officials had put on him in order to get away with their crimes. Why, then, does the Russian state, and at such a high level, try so hard to cover up this crime?

“Why do the competent authorities not simply investigate and expose the criminal conspiracy, put the perpetrators behind bars and follow the ‘money trail’ to get the stolen taxes back?”

The Council of Europe, which oversees the European Court of Human Rights, will now vote on a motion in September to adopt the report and condemn the failure of the Russian authorities to bring anyone to justice for Mr Magnitsky’s death.

Mr Gross said he had requested meetings with officials alleged to have been involved in the fraud, which allegedly involved the misappropriation of companies and the subsequent siphoning away of tax rebates, but no access had been forthcoming.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat