Russia: historic Magnitsky trial brings corruption and rule of law into spotlight

Author: Dmitry Rozhkov

Here is my latest piece published in the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

Russia is set to make history as the country’s first modern-day posthumous trial gets underway in Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court.

The case, involving deceased defendant Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in pre-trial detention in a Moscow prison cell in 2009, has attracted worldwide media attention and brought the issue of corruption in Russia and problems with the country’s judicial and penitentiary systems all firmly under the international spotlight.

Another quirk of the trial will see the other defendant, Bill Browder, the founder of investment fund Hermitage Capital and Magnitsky’s client at the time of his arrest, examined in absentia, making him one of the few foreigners ever to stand trial in absentia in Russia.

Published on 06-03-13. Read on here

Russia’s WTO accession brings hope of reform

Here is my latest piece published in the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

In December 2011 Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was approved, after 18 years of hard-fought negotiations. Although the country has been close to entry several times in the past, obstacles had always arisen. In 2008, the war between Russia and Georgia’s breakaway republic of South Ossetia caused Georgia, an existing WTO member, to block Russia’s entry. After a Swiss-brokered deal late last year, however, Russia was finally accepted, and the country became the 156th member of the trade body on 22 August 2012.

Negotiating Russia’s accession to the WTO has by no means been a simple process, notes Salans partner Edward Borovikov, who has been one of the primary lawyers advising the Russian government on joining the WTO since the early 1990s.

Published on 11-09-12. Read on here

BP seeks to bring Russian adventure with TNK to an end

Here is my latest piece published in the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

When the news came last month that BP was looking to end its Russian tie-up with TNK, few people were surprised.

BP has long been wracked by disputes between its Russian shareholders and this was no clearer than during the Rosneft debacle last year. In January 2011, BP and state-owned Russian energy company Rosneft shocked the world by signing a US$16bn share swap deal to jointly exploit oil and gas reserves in Russia’s Arctic shelf. The deal would have made Rosneft the largest single shareholder in BP, but it was not to be.

Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR), which owns 50 per cent of TNK-BP, claimed that the terms of the share swap deal were in violation of its shareholder agreement, which clearly stipulates that BP must carry out all projects in Russia and the Ukraine through TNK-BP. AAR filed a lawsuit and after retaining Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, went on to obtain an injunction on the deal in London’s High Court in April last year.

Published on 12-07-12. Read on here

Russian elections: Putin again despite the protests

Here is my latest piece published in the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

Scenes of protests wracked the streets of Moscow in December 2011 following widespread public outcry over alleged voting fraud in Russia’s parliamentary elections.

More protests followed in the run-up to the elections in March this year but Vladimir Putin finally emerged triumphant with an estimated 64 per cent of the vote.

While the West may remain sceptical of Putin’s intentions during his third term as president, a number of Russians believe his tenure will see a continuing focus on boosting the country’s economy, particularly in relation to the oil and gas sector.

Published on 29-03-12. Read on here

Russia's posthumous trial of lawyer shows corruption is still rife



Here is my latest article published in the Guardian:

This week it was announced that the Russian authorities are planning to resubmit a tax evasion case for trial. Nothing out of the ordinary, you might think, except for the fact that the defendant is deceased.

The accused in question is Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow prison cell in November 2009. Magnitsky was initially detained in November 2008 on suspicion of assisting one of his clients – UK-based investment fund Hermitage Capital – evade about $17.4m in taxes. Although the original allegations were lodged against Hermitage, during the investigation Magnitsky discovered what he believed to be a cover-up for Russian state officials to embezzle an estimated $230m from the Russian treasury.

Published on 09-02-12. Read on here

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