Australia urged to pass Magnitsky human rights law or risk becoming haven for dirty money
18 Feb 2020

The man who spearheaded the United States’ Magnitsky Act – targeting sanctions against human rights violators around the world – has told Australia it risks becoming “a magnet for dirty money” from abusers and kleptocrats across the globe unless it brings in similar legislation.

US financier Bill Browder, who championed the targeted sanctions laws in the US and around the world, said Australia’s new law should be named after his former lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

In 2008, Magnitsky uncovered a $230m fraud committed by Russian government officials. Magnitsky testified against the officials and was arrested, tortured and died in jail. He was then put on trial posthumously.

In a submission to an Australian parliamentary inquiry, Browder said legal recompense against human rights abusers had to be sought internationally.

“These types of individuals keep their money in the west, where property rights and rule of law exists. This led to the idea of the Magnitsky Act, which freezes assets and bans visas of human rights violators.”

The United States passed the Sergei Magnitsky Accountability Act in 2012, expanding it in 2016. The US government has since imposed sanctions on 94 individuals and 102 entities from 24 countries, including South Sudan, Uganda, Iraq and Cambodia.

Nine jurisdictions have adopted Magnitsky-like legislation, and the EU is considering an almost identical act.

“As a champion of human rights and anticorruption in the Asia-Pacific”, Australia should do so too, Browder told the joint standing committee on defence, foreign affairs and trade.

“As an integral member of the Five Eyes, it would make sense for Australia to follow in the footsteps of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. If Australia does not have its own Magnitsky Act, the country is at risk of becoming a magnet for dirty money from human rights abusers and kleptocrats from around the world.”

By Ben Doherty, The Guardian, 17 February 2020

Read more at The Guardian

Photo: ALDE Group [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

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