US Targets Manhattan Properties of Alleged Russian Looters

Russian lawyer went to jail and died trying to expose money-laundering by government officials


Even as the United States and Russia were nearing an agreement over Syria's chemical weapons, a federal prosecutor was filing papers that effectively accuse the Putin regime of tolerating, if not abetting, an organized gang of government officials and criminals who looted $250 million from the Russian treasury.

The immediate intent of the official complaint filed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on September 10 was to seize several high-end Manhattan properties. The two multimillion-dollar commercial spaces as well as four luxury apartments—these across from where George Washington was inaugurated as our first president—were allegedly purchased to launder proceeds from the Russian gang's diabolically brilliant scheme involving corporate identity theft and a fraudulent tax refund.

The prosecutor's effort can be seen as at least a small measure of justice for the 37-year-old Moscow lawyer who died in horrific circumstances after uncovering the massive fraud. The lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, reported the theft imagining that his government would be sure to act when the victim was the Russian people themselves, even if the crooks allegedly included senor law-enforcement and tax officials.