Investor and Kremlin critic Bill Browder said efforts to introduce an EU-wide sanctions regime that could hit countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia now have “real legs” after Germany signalled support for proposed new laws.
Germany’s foreign office said today it is “committed” to supporting a Dutch proposal that would introduce an European equivalent to the US’s Magnitsky laws, which allow the imposition of sanction upon individuals who are deemed to have violated human rights laws.
“This is Putin’s worst nightmare,” Browder told City A.M. “He and the crooks of his regime have villas dotted along the Cote D’Azur in France, and have so far been immune from all these sanctions in Europe. That’s about to change.”
“Germany is the key to everything, so the fact that Germany has joined has exponentially increased the chance of this thing happening,” he added.
Representatives at the European Council will vote on proposals to introduce a sanctions regime on 10 December. If the proposals pass, it will begin formally developing laws. France has also confirmed it is considering the changes.
BREAKING: German government joins Holland in formally supporting an EU wide Magnitsky Act. With Germany on board this initiative to punish human rights abusers in the EU now has real legs https://t.co/yAIiQJIbb2— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) November 27, 2018
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it was examining proposals amid ongoing investigations into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
An FCO spokesperson said: “The UK has been clear that we need to see accountability for the horrific murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
“We are exploring with EU partners the potential for an EU global human rights sanctions regime, which could address such brutal human rights violations,” they added.
London-based Browder, who heads up the Hermitage Capital fund, told City A.M. that British diplomats had privately assured him the UK would support the proposed changes.
The American-born investor, who was thrown out of Russia in 2005, pushed for the introduction of the US’s Magnitsky Act – named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian accountant who was jailed after he revealed a large-scale fraud within the country’s state-owned enterprises, and whose death Browder claims was caused by Russian prison officials.
“It’s been a long, hard struggle. It’s been nine years trying to make my way through the European bureaucracy to make this happen, but there’s never been a more timely for Magnitsky sanctions against torturers and murderers,” Browder said.