21 January 2013 – The authorities of Lithuania have joined three other European countries in launching money laundering investigations into the funds stolen from the Russian treasury through a scheme exposed by late Hermitage Fund’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, according to Business Week magazine.
The Lithuanian authorities have also frozen funds in Lithuanian banks following the complaint filed by Hermitage Capital Management in July 2012, said Business Week in an article “A Russian Lawyer’s Death Triggers a Global Money Hunt” (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-01-17/a-russian-lawyers-death-triggers-a-global-money-hunt#p2).
The article quotes Donatas Puzinas, a Lithuanian prosecutor, on the investigation currently underway.
“It’s quite complex analytical work,” Mr. Puzinas told Business Week.
“The money generally is split up among several companies. Some of the money, after being transferred, goes back to the original account and then is transferred somewhere else,” said prosecutor Puzinas.
Now authorities in four European countries – Switzerland, Cyprus, Latvia, and Lithuania – are investigating the trail of $230 million stolen money from the Russian budget through a sophisticated scheme involving Russian officials and criminals which has been exposed by Sergei Magnitsky. After Mr Magnitsky testified against officials involved, he was himself arrested and killed in Russian police custody.
Through investigations carried out by Hermitage and a team of investigative journalists from the NGO, Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, $130 million of the stolen $230 million have been traced to eight foreign jurisdictions. That information formed the basis for criminal complaints filed in those eight countries.
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