Hedge Fund Lawyer's Death Gets UN Probe

Jan 24 2011 | 10:03am ET

The death of hedge fund lawyer Sergei Magnitsky is now the subject of a United Nations investigation.

Juan Mendez, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, has opened a probe into Magnitsky's death in 2009 after nearly a year in jail awaiting trial on tax fraud charges. Magnitsky, in a series of notes he kept during his confinement in some of Moscow's most notorious jails, claimed to have been denied adequate medical treatment, and supporters say he was tortured.

"There has been engagement by the special procedures mechanisms with the Russian Federation in relation to the case of Mr. Magnitsky, in accordance with normal diplomatic channels," the UN told The Telegraph. The UN launched its probe after a request from anti-torture group Redress.

Magnitsky died on Nov. 16, 2009. He had been charged with tax fraud after he, as a lawyer for British hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management, alleged that Russian officials defrauded Hermitage and the Russian treasury of US$230 million. The 37-year-old said before his death that authorities were trying to pressure him into withdrawing those allegations and into implicating Hermitage founder William Browder.

Russian officials, including President Dmitri Medvedev, have expressed regret for Magnitsky's death and promised a full investigation. But, to date, no charges have been filed and the Interior Ministry's probe has previously been extended to today.

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