British Parliament Moves to Impose Magnitsky Asset Freezes on the U.K. Property of Human Rights Violators
05 December 2016 – Members of Parliament from all of Britain’s main political parties have joined forces to introduce Magnitsky asset freezing legislation in the UK as part of the Criminal Finances Bill.
The new anti-corruption legislation, known as the “Magnitsky Amendment,” will apply to those who are involved in or profited from human rights abuse, including those engaged in retaliation against whistleblowers on foreign corruption.
The Amendment can be found on the UK Parliament website: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2016-2017/0097/amend/criminal_rm_rep_1128.1-5.html
The Magnitsky Amendment will enable both the government and private parties to apply for the freezing of UK assets belonging to human rights abusers and their beneficiaries. It will be part of the UK’s Criminal Finances Bill, aimed to strengthen UK’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist finance legislative framework.
Dominic Raab, MP for Esher & Walton who tabled the amendment, said:
“People with blood on their hands for the worst human rights abuses should not be able to funnel their dirty money into the UK. This change in the law will protect Britain from becoming a safe place for despots and dictators to hide their money.”
The cross-party initiative was sponsored by Dominic Raab MP (Conservative), Dame Margaret Hodge MP (Labour), Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrat), Ian Blackford MP (SNP), Douglas Carswell MP (UKIP), Caroline Lucas MP (Green), and Sammy Wilson MP (Democratic Unionist). It is supported by an additional 20 MPs (see full list of supporting MPs, below).
“For too long the UK has acted as a safe haven for foreign kleptocrats and their ill-gotten gains,” said Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking and one of the initiators of the legislation in the UK Parliament. “We hope this legislation will help to end this.”
The UK’s new major anti-corruption initiative is named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured and killed in Russian police custody after blowing the whistle on a US$230 million fraud perpetrated by Russian government officials and organised criminals.
“The UK Magnitsky Amendment is a ground-breaking piece of legislation which sends the message to human rights violators around the world that their blood money is no longer welcome here,” said William Browder, head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign and author of Red Notice: How I Became Putin’s No 1 Enemy.
“By creating personal consequences for the perpetrators of these crimes, the UK will protect whistleblowers such as Sergei Magnitsky around the world,” said William Browder.
The Magnitsky Amendment addresses some of the shortcomings of the UK regime, which currently fails to prevent international criminals from storing the proceeds of their crimes in this country. A recent Home Affairs Committee report estimated that over Ј100 billion is laundered through UK financial systems each year.
The legislation targets those who have persecuted whistleblowers, journalists, human rights activists and members of the political opposition.
The Magnitsky Amendment enables the government, individuals and entities (including NGOs) to apply to the High Court for a Magnitsky designation order to be issued against an individual, where credible evidence exists that the individual was involved in or profited from human rights abuse.
Crucially, it places a duty on the Secretary of State to apply for a designation order if they have been made aware of incriminating evidence against an individual and it is in the public interest to do so.
It also places a duty on enforcement agencies to act once a designation order has been made.
There will be a publicly available “UK Magnitsky list” of people who are subject to designation orders under the amendment.
The UK Magnitsky Amendment is the latest in a series of legislative initiatives around the world to end impunity for those involved in the Magnitsky case and other human rights abuses, which include the 2012 US Magnitsky Act and a European Parliament Magnitsky list issued in 2014. The UK Amendment coincides with a Global Magnitsky law in the United States, which is currently in the final stages of approval in Congress, and a Global Magnitsky law which is also underway in Canada.
The Magnitsky Amendment was tabled before the commencement of the Report Stage of the Criminal Finances Bill. The next steps for the bill will be a full vote in the House of Commons, followed by a vote in the House of Lords.
Magnitsky Amendment Sponsoring MPs:
Dominic Raab MP (Conservative)
Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP (Labour)
Rt Hon Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrat)
Mr Douglas Carswell MP (UK Independence Party)
Ian Blackford MP (Scottish Nationalist Party)
Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party)
Sammy Wilson MP (Democratic Unionist Party)
Magnitsky Amendment Supporting MPs:
Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP (Conservative)
Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP (Conservative)
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP (Conservative)
Mr Jonathan Djanogly MP (Conservative)
Tim Loughton MP (Conservative)
Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg MP (Conservative)
James Gray MP (Conservative)
Bob Stewart MP (Conservative)
Rt Hon Sir Edward Garnier QC MP (Conservative)
Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP (Labour)
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP (Labour)
Chris Bryant MP (Labour)
Catherine McKinnell MP (Labour)
Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP (Labour)
Rachel Reeves MP (Labour)
Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP (Labour)
Rushanara Ali MP (Labour)
Rt Hon David Lammy MP (Labour)
Ms Margaret Ritchie MP (Social Democrat and Labour Party)
Mark Durkan MP (Social Democrat and Labour Party)
For more information, please contact:
Justice for Sergei Magnitsky
+44 207 440 1777
Press release courtesy of: http://lawandorderinrussia.org
Image source: www.theguardian.com