Bill Browder has gained international fame after writing the bestselling book Red Notice, an account of how he was deported from Russia and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was allegedly beaten to death in a cell.
Following the death in 2009 Mr Browder, a British-American author and former financier who describes himself as Vladimir Putin’s number one foe, lobbied US Congress to introduce tough sanctions on those involved.
In 2012, the Magnitsky Act, which imposed asset freezes and travel bans on a number of Russian nationals, was signed into law in the US by President Barack Obama.
Other countries – including the UK, the Baltic states and Canada – have since decided to adopt their own versions.
Mr Browder says he is now willing to come to Jersey to testify before politicians and help the Island introduce its own Magnitsky Act.
Mr Magnitsky had been investigating a $230 million tax fraud case involving Russian tax officials shortly before he died. He was accused of committing the crimes himself and jailed before dying in suspicious circumstances.
Mr Browder claims that oligarchs with ties to the Russian government hold ‘tens of billions’ of dollars of assets through trust and companies set up in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and imposing sanctions would help take money away from ‘people who have done terrible things’.
Relations between the UK and Russia have deteriorated drastically in recent weeks following the poisoning of two Russians, former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, with a nerve agent in Salisbury earlier this month.
The developments led to Senator Philip Ozouf raising the issue in the States of whether Jersey should now implement its own version of the Magnitsky Act.
In reaction to Senator Ozouf’s comments, Mr Browder tweeted that if Jersey did so it would be a ‘tectonic negative shift’ in the fortunes of Russian oligarchs tied to the Putin regime because they ‘hold significant assets in Jersey’.
Speaking exclusively to the JEP, Mr Browder said that Jersey could play its part in the global fight against human rights abusers if it adopts it own version of the Magnitsky Act.
‘The Russian government’s officials don’t keep these huge amounts of money in their own name. They keep them in the name of trustees who are Russian oligarchs and there’s an absolutely massive amount of money – tens of billions – held by Russian oligarch trustees in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man,’ he said.
‘They own companies which hold shares in investments, hedge funds, private equity and real estate.’
Mr Browder said that if Jersey adopted its own version of the Magnitsky Act it would ‘absolutely send a message to Russian bad guys’.
‘This is an opportunity to enforce human rights and take away money from people who have done terrible things,’ he said.
‘If you look at the court records in London, you see all sorts of companies owned by oligarchs in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, so they could really do something about this.’
He added that he would be willing to visit the Island to help the States introduce Magnitsky Act-style provisions.
‘I’m ready to come over and testify to the parliament of Jersey, just like I have done in the US, Canada, the UK and Sweden,’ he said.
This week External Relations Minister Sir Philip Bailhache suggested that the vetting process for high-value residents in Jersey with ties to the Russian government is likely to become stricter following the Salisbury attack.