Brow­der case in Ni­cosia moves for­ward

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Next month, the Ni­cosia District Court will con­sider a tem­po­rary in­junc­tion de­mand from fi­nancier Bill Brow­der’s lawyer that would pre­vent Cypriot author­i­ties from act­ing on any le­gal re­quest from Rus­sia.

Brow­der, an Amer­i­can-born Bri­tish fi­nancier and co­founder of Her­mitage Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment - once the largest for­eign port­fo­lio in­vestor in Rus­sia, - is wanted by Moscow for tax fraud and for be­ing a ‘threat to na­tional se­cu­rity’.

He ar­gues that the Rus­sian author­i­ties are out to get him be­cause he has ex­posed wide­spread cor­rup­tion at the very top, ar­gu­ing their pur­suit of him is po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

US at­tor­ney, Jonathan Winer, was in Ni­cosia this week in a move to pre­vent co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Cyprus and Rus­sian or the is­su­ing of any war­rant against Brow­der, ar­gu­ing such moves were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

The fi­nancier also wants to take Cyprus to task over what he sees is its cozy re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia.

Winer told the district court his client wants to sub­mit a sup­ple­men­tary af­fi­davit which will sup­port Brow­der’s po­si­tion that the of­fences for which Rus­sia seeks as­sis­tance from Cyprus are po­lit­i­cal and his pros­e­cu­tion “de­rives ex­clu­sively from po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion”.

In a writ­ten re­sponse to the move, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Costas Clerides ob­jected to the re­quest, ar­gu­ing that it was “base­less, un­law­ful and ir­reg­u­lar” with the sole pur­pose to de­lay pro­ceed­ings.

In his sworn state­ment to the court, Clerides urged the judge to re­ject Brow­der’s re­quest as “there is no good rea­son” to do oth­er­wise, be­cause there was “no merit or sub­stan­ti­ated ar­gu­ment” given for the in­junc­tion to be granted.

But district court judge Ioan­nis Ioan­nides de­cided that Brow­der should be given the chance to state his case at a new hear­ing sched­uled for 11 July.

The judge said Brow­der’s de­fence will now have to prove their ar­gu­ment that the; “rel­e­vant crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions are of a po­lit­i­cal na­ture rather than gen­uine charges and pri­mar­ily in­sti­gated to present Bill Brow­der as a com­mon crim­i­nal rather than a hu­man rights cham­pion.”

Brow­der has filed a law­suit against the Repub­lic of Cyprus re­quest­ing com­pen­sa­tion for dam­ages for an al­leged vi­o­la­tion of his con­sti­tu­tional rights.

Due to the Brow­der case, Cypriot author­i­ties sus­pended co­op­er­a­tion with Moscow which drew crit­i­cism from Rus­sia last year.

“Such ac­tions by our Cypriot part­ners are at odds with the level and na­ture of our bi­lat­eral and in­ter­state re­la­tions, which are char­ac­terised by a high level of trust and mu­tual sup­port, as il­lus­trated by in­ten­sive po­lit­i­cal con­tacts at all lev­els, es­pe­cially at the high­est,” read a state­ment is­sued by the Rus­sian for­eign min­istry in Oc­to­ber.

Added to the mix of sen­si­tive re­la­tions with Rus­sia, a se­nior state at­tor­ney faces dis­ci­plinary ac­tion over her ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ship’ with Rus­sian author­i­ties on ex­tra­di­tion cases

Leaked emails sug­gest that state at­tor­ney Eleni Loizidou of­fered in­for­ma­tion about the sta­tus of cases con­cern­ing Moscow’s re­quests for ex­tra­di­tion of Rus­sians or pro­posed ways to han­dle them for a favourable out­come.

These rev­e­la­tions came weeks af­ter Rus­sia crit­i­cised Ni­cosia for de­clin­ing a Rus­sian re­quest for le­gal as­sis­tance in a probe against Brow­der who sought court ac­tion to block such help.

Poli­tis news­pa­per, which leaked the emails, said that Loizidou’s email ex­changes re­ferred to the Brow­der case.

Last week the anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paigner was ar­rested in Madrid by Span­ish po­lice with a Rus­sian war­rant but was later set free af­ter a brief spell in cus­tody.

Brow­der has led a cam­paign to ex­pose cor­rup­tion and pun­ish Rus­sian of­fi­cials he blames for the 2009 death of his lawyer Sergei Mag­nit­sky.

He wrote on Twit­ter that he was freed from cus­tody in Madrid af­ter the In­ter­pol gen­eral sec­re­tary in Lyon had ad­vised Spain not to hon­our the Rus­sian ar­rest war­rant. He said it was the sixth time Rus­sia had “abused” In­ter­pol in his case.

As head of the Her­mitage Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment in­vest­ment fund, Brow­der led a cam­paign to ex­pose cor­rup­tion and pun­ish Rus­sian of­fi­cials he blames for the 2009 death of Mag­nit­sky.

Mag­nit­sky was im­pris­oned on charges widely con­sid­ered to be false and died amid claims he was tor­tured.

He was ar­rested by the same po­lice of­fi­cers he im­pli­cated in a $230 mln tax fraud, with some of that money ($30 mln) al­legedly laun­dered through Cyprus-based banks. Mag­nit­sky Act His death prompted Brow­der to work with the US Congress to pass the Mag­nit­sky Act, which levied tar­geted sanc­tions against pow­er­ful play­ers in Rus­sia much to the cha­grin of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

It was signed into law in 2012 by US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and sought to pun­ish Rus­sian hu­man rights vi­o­la­tors.

The Mag­nit­sky Act re­turned to the head­lines last year af­ter it emerged that a lawyer sup­port­ing the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion had met se­nior fig­ures in Don­ald Trump’s US pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, in­clud­ing Trump’s son and son-in-law.

Rus­sia placed Brow­der on the In­ter­pol wanted list in 2017, in a scheme that lets coun­tries uni­lat­er­ally place in­di­vid­u­als on the data­base used to re­quest an ar­rest.

The Coun­cil of Europe has crit­i­cised Rus­sia’s at­tempts to seek Brow­der’s ar­rest through In­ter­pol, call­ing the ef­forts “abuses” of the sys­tem.

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