Review of Philip Morris Link to Corrupt Officials

illu.jpgRussia! magazine has an exclusive today on a letter it obtained from a Russian lawyer whose client has been the victim of an attempted asset seizure, by the same group of Russian officials who were involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky (and who, if the last Hermitage Capital video is to be believed, are still very much at large and reaping the benefits of their monumental fraud operations).  The added twist in the tale is that these murky connections have led the trail back to one of the world’s biggest cigarette companies, US major Philip Morris, which, the lawyer claims, could thus be implicated in corruption schemes perpetrated by the very same group.  The Helsinki Commission has stated it may investigate the issue:

“The matter was brought to the Commission’s attention by Alexander Dobrovinsky, a Russian lawyer, in a written appeal to its chairman, U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland.

Dobrovinsky’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by Russia! Magazine, recounted how his client, Moscow entrepreneur Armen Yeganyan, was allegedly blackmailed by corrupt Russian officials attempting to seize his $120 million wine and cognac business. Many of the officials involved in the attempted takeover, Dobrovinsky wrote, were also implicated in the tragic 2009 case of Sergei Magnitsky.

According to the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Magnitsky, a lawyer for the U.S. investment advisory Hermitage Capital, was incarcerated on false charges after he testified about a massive tax fraud ring, and died in prison last November when his captors denied him basic medical care. The case elicited widespread outrage and the attention of the CSCE, alternately known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

Dobrovinsky’s appeal was a warning to the Commission that the perpetrators in the Magnitsky case are still using the same tactics to subjugate private businesses. “[P]arties responsible for Magnitsky’s death,” he wrote, “have continued to conduct activity that makes them seem complicit in the seizure of companies and in threatening the lives and wellbeing of other Russian citizens.”

Dobrovinsky also called on the Commission to inform cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris that it may be indirectly implicated in corruption schemes perpetrated by these same corrupt authorities from the “Magnitsky List”: “The information available to us indicates a possible link between the… criminal case against Armen Yeganyan [in] an attempt to establish control over KiN Moscow Wine and Cognac Plant’s activity on the part of the structures controlled by [Russian businessman] Igor Kesayev, one of the major Philip Morris distributors in this country, and the actions of law enforcement agencies subsequent to this conflict with respect to Mr. Yeganyan,” Dobrovinsky wrote, concluding: “Thus,… Philip Morris, may be an implicit participant in actions aimed at illegally imprisoning Russian businessman Armen Yeganyan and seizing his property.”

Keep reading here.