Bill Browder celebrates implementation of the Magnitsky Act after 10-year campaign

6 July 2020, 13:33 | Updated: 6 July 2020, 15:08

By Adrian Sherling

This is James O'Brien's remarkable interview with Bill Browder after the anti-corruption campaigner celebrated the implementation of the Magnitsky Law.

Six years ago, Bill Browder called LBC to tell the story of his battle with Vladimir Putin. His lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was killed in jail by Vladimir Putin's men and since then, he had been fighting against corruption in Russia.

Today, the UK is going to announce implementation of the Magnitsky Act after years of campaigning.

That law, already passed in the US, Canada, Estonia and a number of other countries, freezes the money of any people involved in corruption or human rights abuses around the world.

Speaking to James O'Brien, Mr Browder said his aim had always been to hit the oligarchs where it hurts - their pockets.

James O'Brien spoke to Bill Browder about the implementation of the Magnitsky Act
James O'Brien spoke to Bill Browder about the implementation of the Magnitsky Act. Picture: LBC

He said: "The idea behind the Magnitsky sanctions is that in the past, governments couldn't do anything when there was an atrocity like the Magnitsky murder of the Khashoggi murder. All they could do was say they were deeply concerned and the bad guys would just laugh at it.

"So I came up with this idea.

"In the modern world, the bad guys would often have a lot of money and they don't keep that money in their own unlawful countries, but keep it in London and in Washington or New York.

"So I came up with this idea - let's freeze their assets and ban their visas. That became known as the Magnitsky Act.

"Of all the countries that could be sanctioning someone, Britain is one of the most powerful because every tinpot dictator and kleptocrat and bad guy wants to have a house in Belgrave Square and wants to send their kids to British boarding school.

"All of a sudden, we're taking away something they really covet. And that is really powerful. We know it's powerful because of how much people like Putin hate the Magnitsky Act."

Bill Browder has been described as Vladimir Putin's number one enemy
Bill Browder has been described as Vladimir Putin's number one enemy. Picture: PA

Mr Browder revealed the use of the Act in the UK owes a huge amount to Dominic Raab.

He stated: "About eight years ago, I met this quite young backbench MP sitting in obscurity named Dominic Raab. I told him the story of the torture and murder of my lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and he was so outraged, he wanted to do something about it.

"As a total outside at the time, he chiseled away at the establishment until he became the establishment - and then became the Foreign Secretary. And with his own rise, he was able to take this cause he had been working on and make it a reality.

"Whatever your opinions on Brexit, on this case, Dominic Raab has been a real hero."

Below is Bill Browder's full, remarkable story about his battle with corruption in Russia.