US Commission Asks for Sanctions on Switzerland Officials Linked to Murder of Russian Whistleblower

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The US Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the Helsinki Commission, in a letter on Friday asked for sanctions on three Swiss officials involved in the release of frozen financial assets. The frozen assets, worth $20 million, were connected to several Russian officials accused of involvement in the 2009 murder of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and tax fraud whistleblower.

The CSCE named the three Swiss officials and identified them as members of the Swiss Federal Police and Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office. The officials are accused of obstructing the investigation on those suspected in the murder as well as accepting bribes in the form of trips and vacations “funded by Russian oligarchs.”

The recommended sanctions would fall under the US Magnitsky Act. The Act, passed in 2012, allows for sanctions to be placed on persons linked to the detention, abuse, or death of Magnitsky. This includes a provision extending to persons who are found to have profited financially from Magnitsky’s death.

Several countries have passed their own versions of the US Magnitsky Act. Additionally, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act allows for economic sanctions on anyone “identified as engaging in human rights abuse or corruption.” It is not yet clear if other countries will impose sanctions on the Swiss officials.

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office ended its investigation into tax fraud and money laundering concerns raised by Magnitsky’s death in 2021. Their office said that “despite extensive enquires” they had not been able to prove any wrongdoing in connection with the frozen assets in Switzerland.

Source : Jurist