John Binns Explains The UK's Version Of The Magnitsky Provisions & Why They Are Unclear

BCL partner, John Binns explains in his latest article for Open Access Government the provisions inspired by the US' Global Magnitsky Act to two pieces of UK legislation - the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) and the Sanctions & Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (SAMLA).

Below is a short extract from the article* which you can read in full on the Open Access Government website here.

John Binns talks us through the UK's version of the Magnitsky provisions and why they are unclear.

Two pieces of UK legislation - the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), as amended in 2017, and the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (SAMLA) - now include provisions inspired by the US' Global Magnitsky Act. That, in turn, was of course inspired by the case of Sergei Magnitsky, who was killed in prison after investigating public-sector fraud in Russia.

The question became: What can we do to appropriately have justice for someone who was silenced by Russia? The answer was essentially to create an all-encompassing law.

The definitions in POCA

The definitions in the two acts are complex. First of all, POCA defines: (a) a 'gross human rights abuse or violation' to include, broadly speaking, torture (or inhuman or degrading treatment) by a public official of a person who has sought to expose illegal activity by a public official, or to defend human rights; and (b) conduct 'connected with' such abuse to include acting as an agent in connection with it, directing, sponsoring or profiting from it, or materially assisting it (which includes providing goods, services, and other financial or technological support for it).

Magnitsky and civil recovery

POCA then makes property subject to civil recovery processes if it represents the proceeds of or (in some cases) is intended for use in either type of activity (either the abuse, or the conduct connected with it). This means, for example, that the pay someone received for torturing someone, or the proceeds of selling weapons of torture, could be frozen and forfeited without the need for a criminal conviction.

Magnitsky provisions

SAMLA empowers ministers to...

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