Erik Schatzker: YouTube, it is one way to fight the Russian mob and it’s the latest strategy for American lawyer, Jamison Firestone. His colleague, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian jail after implicating Moscow police in a $230 million alleged tax fraud. Before fleeing the country, Jamie spent 18 years advising U.S. companies on how to navigate the Russian legal system. He’s normally with us from London, but Jamie is in New York today and he’s with me right here. Jamie, these are serious accusations. You’re accusing Pavel Karpov and some of his associates of crimes. Theft, tax fraud, torture, murder. I mean, we’ll get to the substance of those allegations in a moment, but you were in London last time we talked. Now you’re here. Do you feel safer on American soil than you did in London, or are you still at risk?
Jamison F.: I’m still at risk. Maybe I’m a little safer, but I am still at risk. The last time we spoke, if you remember, I said that I went to London to actually fight these people. I didn’t go to London to just run away and forget about it. That’s what I’m doing.
Erik Schatzker: Now, why turn to YouTube? We have spoken about this. Your case has been written about by other members of the press, but you’re effectively going freelance now, taking your case directly to the internet, and I would have to imagine, hoping as many people as possible see this.
Jamison F.: Absolutely. The reason to go to YouTube is because the Russian legal system doesn’t work and especially when you’re dealing with Russian organized crime that concerns Russian officials, and Russian police officers, if you just go through the system, all of your complaints go to the very criminals who you’re trying to fight against. With YouTube, we can expose them, we can show the entire world what they’ve done, and then when there’s enough attention on it, we can file criminal complaints against them, and actually get some action.
Erik Schatzker: Okay. Criminal complaints, getting action in Russia as you know better than anyone, a lot easier said than done. What ultimately do you hope is going to happen out of these videos? Because what you’re talking about is domestic corruption in Russia. There are international situations involving the Russians, just like the sleeper spies here in the United States. That becomes an international incident and Russian turns around and acts. Is it not a good deal harder to get Russia to act on its own soil about something that’s happening domestically?
Jamison F.:Well, it is. This has actually become an international incident already. This involves top government officials working with an organized crime syndicate headed by a Russian criminal by the name of Dmitry Klyuev. They’ve killed a partner in an America law firm. They’ve chased lawyers out of the country. They have laundered their money through U.S. and European banks. It’s really an international case at this point and it’s difficult to get the Russians to act, but one thing that seems to get the Russians to act is when you … They’re losing credibility abroad right now. Not just with investors, but with other governments at this point. We’re hoping that that’s … Eventually they’re going to act.
Erik Schatzker: While we’re talking Jamie, let’s play a little more of this YouTube video that you guys have produced, and I’m going to ask you a question as it comes up, which is this, you want criminal action in Russia, but Pavel Karpov and his associates also want criminal action. They’ve asked a prosecutor to file charges against you and Bill Browder of the Hermitage Fund for liable.
Jamison F.: That’s true.
Erik Schatzker: I mean, given the fact that he has been promoted, right? He is now an investigator in the federal police system. What kind of chances do you think you have against a guy like that, with the kinds of connections and influence that he’s got?
Jamison F.: Very good chances. The problem with these people, and the libel suit is a great example of it, is that they’re not really used to being attacked. They’re used to doing whatever they want, never having the public look at them, never having anybody see what they really do. This is a man who I’ve been trying to get into court. He is now sued for libel, which allows us to come into court, and it defends the libel as truth. As you’ll see when you play those videos, this man is clearly corrupt. He makes $535 a month, but he obviously lives quite a different lifestyle.
Erik Schatzker: Okay. Well, $535 a month as you point out in your video is not enough to fund the kind of lifestyle that he appears to have been enjoying, but doesn’t everybody know that Russian cops don’t actually earn just what their official salary says?
Jamison F.: They do know that, but it’s very rare that you actually can tie corruption to specific acts. Here we have not only a man getting rich, but we’re going to tie him to the murder of my colleague, Sergei Magnitsky. When you actually see, corruption is … Corruption has one romantic side. It’s what you’re going to show in your movie where the friends think they’re successful people, and sure, they’re a little corrupt, but whatever. It has another side and that’s the side of my partner’s family without their husband, father, and son at this point. Everybody understands corruption, but it’s not usually thrown in your face this way.
Erik Schatzker: Jamie, we can understand why you might feel personally for Sergei Magnitsky, but other skeptics might say, “This is just an attempt to try and recover the money that was stolen in the form of companies from Bill Browder’s Hermitage Fund.” How do you respond to that?
Jamison F.: Well, no money was stolen from Bill Browder’s Hermitage Fund. This money was stolen-
Erik Schatzker: Well, what the … The titles to the companies?
Jamison F.: The companies were stolen, but the money that was stolen is Russian government money. Really, it’s the Russian government that should have an interest in recovering its own money. It’s not our money. It’s not Browder’s money. I’m not doing this out of personal interest, I’m doing this because these people killed Sergei Magnitsky and they need to go to prison.
Erik Schatzker: Jamie, thank you for joining us. Jamie Firestone taking his case against the Russian government to YouTube.