By Lucy Komisar
Jan 12, 2018
Lawyers are supposed to carefully vet the facts they assert with documented evidence. The National Law Journal is a preeminent legal publication.
So why did it yesterday repeat this unproved myth? That “Hermitage‘s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, exposed the alleged fraud behind the Prevezon case before his death while in Russian custody.”
Dear writer Ryan Lovelace @lawdotcom, read this:
The fraud was not uncovered by Magnitsky, who was an accountant, not a lawyer.
Magnitsky talked about the matter for the first time in an interrogation by Russian tax investigators in June 2008. (It identifies him as an auditor.) But, he was not a whistleblower. He was called to answer questions as a suspect. He did not expose the fraud. He cited an article by the Russian business daily Kommersant article, which two months earlier had printed the information with Browder’s response.
Magnitsky said: “On 3 April 2008, Kommersant published an article which, referring to the law-enforcement authorities, reported that Parphenion, Limited Liability Company, Realand, Limited Liability Company, and Machaon, Limited Liability Company, had allegedly used «tax evasion schemes » and criminal proceedings were launched to prosecute those at fault.” See Kommersant (in Russian) April 3, 2008 and April 4, 2008 .
Rimma Starova was a hired “name” fronting as a director of the company to which the shells had been transferred. She saw the Kommersant articles. By then the re-registered companies had participated in the $230 million tax refund fraud. Investigators might have discovered the scam. She didn‘t want to take a fall and went to the police. Her complaint April 9th detailed the fraudulent theft of three Hermitage companies.
Investigators would normally have followed up to find out what the fraudsters had done with the companies. And discovered their tax refund fraud. We don’t know what they did.
Browder in his book Red Notice says says that his group first filed official complaints about the tax rebate fraud on July 23, 2008.
The Magnitsky testimony was released after Magnitsky‘s death, available for inquiring journalists but not touted by Magnitsky myth-maker William Browder. And routinely ignored by journalists who, far from being inquiring, are, like The National Law Journal, Browder‘s stenographers. NLJ, it’s even on Pacer, which you must be familiar with. Case 1:13-cv-06326.