Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who uncovered fraud worth 230 million dollars on the part of Russian tax officials and police. After reporting the fraud to authorities, Magnitsky was arrested on the suspicion of tax evasion. On November 16, 2009, Magnitsky died in custody.
The official cause of death is listed as acute heart failure and toxic shock brought about by pancreatitis. An investigation by Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Counsel found that Magnitsky had been brutally beaten. On March 19, 2013, the Investigative Committee, Russia’s version of the FBI, dropped the investigation concluding that Magnitsky had been legally arrested and detained. Their report also found that he had not been tortured. On July 11, 2013, Magnitsky was posthumously found guilty of tax fraud.
The law initially froze the American assets of 18 Russians, barred them from entering the United States, and prevented them from using US banking systems. All of the Russians affected by the law are suspected of human rights violations. In 2016, the law was expanded. It now covers 44 people from around the world who are suspected of human rights violations.