The Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act
On October 4, 2017, the House of Commons has unanimously voted to pass Bill S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (the “Act”), that is commonly known as the Magnitsky law. The law is named after Sergey Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer who uncovered a large tax fraud and was detained and died in a Moscow prison on November 16, 2009. Bill S-226 received Royal Assent on October 18, 2017.
The Act imposes various sanctions, including freezing of assets and travel bans, on foreign nationals responsible for gross violation of internationally recognized human rights and significant corruption. Among other things, the Act permits issuing orders against anyone in or outside Canada who are dealing, directly or indirectly, with the property or financial affairs of the foreign national that is the subject of an order or regulation under the Act.
On November 3, 2017, regulations under the Act were enforced combating the activities of 52 foreign nationals who are believed to have been engaged in gross human rights violations or significant corruption activities. The majority of the named individuals are the nationals of the Russian Federation, in addition to the nationals of Venezuela and South Sudan. The Russian government has not welcomed the law. It retaliated with its own list banning the entry of various Canadians into Russia. As part of the retaliatory measures, Russia’s officials stated that the government viewed the law as yet another attempt to exert pressure on Russia.