Interpol Red Notices and Russian Clients - A Seminar
On 19th March Doughty Street Chambers hosted a seminar on INTERPOL Red Notices and other legal challenges facing those advising Russian clients. The political situation in Russia is volatile, and the outlook for its economy is bleak. Oil prices hover between $50 and $60 a barrel, international sanctions are biting, and the Rouble is sliding. The ramifications for wealthy Russian individuals are scarcely any more positive: de-offshorisation and new tax regimes are being introduced, and some Russians based in the UK are now receiving letters asking them to account for and explain the provenance of their wealth. Many of them may soon be called upon by Moscow to use their assets to help prop up the State.
In response to an increase in enquiries on behalf of Russian clients, we presented last week's event to assist those those solicitors, accountants and others who may encounter such issues. Joseph Middleton from the Doughty Street team presented on INTERPOL Red Notices, which have been abused as a politically motivated measure to secure the arrest and return of wanted persons. Joe outlined their far-reaching and potentially indefinite consequences for the subject of the notice, and set out how the Red Notice scheme works, the problems with it, as well as offering advice on steps which can be taken to challenge them. Joe, a fluent Russian speaker, and others in our team have succesfully challenged a number of Red Notices, and are always happy to advise on this extremely technical area of the law.
We were particularly delighted to welcome Alex Tinsley from Fair Trials International, an organisation which campaigns to ensure states adhere to the rule of law, open justice, and a fair chance to present a defence. Alex took us through a case study of Petr Silaev, an environmentalist who, despite being a recognised refugee from Russia, still faced arrest under a Russian Red Notice request and protracted proceedings to regain his freedom. Doughty Street Chambers is noted by Fair Trials International as one of only four organisations of lawyers offering advice relating to INTERPOL.
Chaired by Edward Fitzgerald QC, the evening also featured a panel discussion on Russia-related issues. Malcolm Hawkes, another of our fluent Russian speakers, spoke about the ongoing process of de-offshorisation in Russia – the efforts by the state to identify and claw back funds transferred out of Russia overseas. In 2014 alone these amounted to approximately $150bn with no end in sight in 2015.
Richard Fisher QC addressed the question of the seizure of foreign nationals’ assets and how the UK authorities are alert to, and proactive in identifying and seizing such funds and property.
Attended by a number of leading city firms which specialize in private client, corporate litigation and tax law, the evening provided a welcome opportunity to demonstrate the risks and problems many Russian nationals may soon be facing, as well as identifying the best ways to help protect them. If you think we may be able to help your Russian or other clients, please don't hesitate to get in touch.