Pavel Ivlev, Chairman of the Committee for Russian Economic Freedom
Pavel Ivlev was a long-time legal counsel to YUKOS and its former CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who fled to New York from Russia under fear of unjust prosecution. A district court in Moscow issued an arrest warrant for Ivlev in 2005 on charges of embezzlement and money laundering, identical to those of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev. Ivlev believed that the arrest warrant was a result of his refusal to provide false incriminating evidence against Khodorkovsky and other key YUKOS managers. Ivlev has vowed not to return to Russia.
A graduate of Moscow State University Law School in 1993, Ivlev also studied law at Columbia University (New York) and Queen Mary College (London) law schools, and is a member of the International Bar Association and the U.S.-Russia Business Council. In 1997 Ivlev became a partner of a leading Moscow-based international law firm, ALM Feldmans, which was effectively destroyed by the broader attack on YUKOS and its advisors.
Jamison R. Firestone
Jamison R. Firestone is a member of the New York Bar and sat on the Board of Directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow for six years. He is Managing Partner of Firestone Duncan, which is both a law firm and an audit firm with offices in Moscow and London. The firm was established by American attorneys in 1993 to service the specialized legal, tax, accounting, and audit needs of foreign ventures doing business in Russia or with Russian parties. Many of Firestone Duncan’s clients are well known western firms including many western law firms that do not have a Russian presence. The firm’s client list also includes a growing number of dynamic Russian firms.
Firestone has been a tireless advocate and lobbyist of legal and administrative reforms to improve rule of law and reduce the administrative burdens of doing business in Russia. Firestone counsels Hermitage Capital, an investment firm that was Russia’s largest foreign investor with over $4 billion under management. In 2007 three of Hermitage Fund’s Russian investment companies were stolen with the active involvement of Ministry of Interior officers. In 2008 one of Firestone’s lawyers, Sergei Magnitsky, was falsely detained and tortured to death in pretrial detention by the Ministry of Interior officers he had exposed as being involved in the theft.
The death of Sergei Magnitsky in pretrial detention in November of 2009 has led to one of the most important rule of law cases in Russia. Although President Medvedev has called for an investigation into the causes of Magnitsky’s death, he has not called into question the arrest of a lawyer by the officers he testified against, nor has done anything to aid Firestone’s client Hermitage Fund to regain control of its stolen companies. In fact President Medvedev has allowed the same officers who Magnitsky accused, and who detained and killed him, to continue to bring fabricated criminal cases against any lawyer who attempts to expose their corruption. As of this date, in addition to detaining and killing Mr. Magnitsky, the same group of Ministry of Interior officers, who somehow acquired millions of dollars of publicly recorded assets at the time of the theft, has attempted to arrest seven more lawyers from five different Russian law firms.
Firestone is a great believer in the potential of the Russian market but believes that clients must understand the failings of the Russian legal system before making investment decisions.
Sanford Saunders, a litigator with more than 20 years of experience, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation and white collar criminal defense management with an emphasis on energy-related matters. As a shareholder of Greenberg Traurig LLP, he represents clients in both domestic and international matters.
Saunders is a member of the Litigation and Criminal Justice Sections of the District of Columbia Bar Association, the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association, and contributed to the American Bar Association’s Non-Grand Jury Criminal Subpoenas Report. Saunders has played a leading role in the defense of Russian businessman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Bruce Misamore, the former CFO of Russian oil company Yukos, works from his Houston home to regain lost assets for Yukos’ more than 55,000 shareholders. Now retired, Misamore spends several hours a day working on Yukos-related issues. Five years ago, Russian authorities seized Yukos’ assets to satisfy fictitious tax claims against the company, after having arrested the now jailed oligarch and company CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky on fraudulent politically motivated charges unrelated to the company.
Misamore maintains that the tax charges were trumped up and that the seizure was unjust, a move by the Kremlin to re-nationalize its oil industry and punish political enemies of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Yukos’ assets were eventually sold to two state-owned companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, and the proceeds from the sales paid primarily to the Russian government to satisfy the fictitious tax claims. Russian prosecutors have argued that Misamore and his counterparts stripped valuable assets from the company and sold them for personal gain. Misamore dismisses the allegations as absurd. He and other former executives are pressing their own claims on behalf of the company against the Russian government before the European Court of Human Rights. It’s the largest case of its kind to be brought in the court’s 60-year history with damage claims exceeding $100 billion.
Ethan S. Burger
Ethan S. Burger is an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and Senior Counsel to the law firm Maxwell & Barke LLC. Mr. Burger has practiced law for more than 18 years, and has written more than 50 articles. He specializes in Russian-related legal matters, as well as country conditions in both Belarus and Russia, and international economic crime and is a regular “Expert Panel” contributor to the online journal, Russia Profile.
Burger has taught Business Organizations, Comparative Corporate Governance, International Economic Crime & Corruption, International Practice & Ethical Dilemmas, and Conflict and Resolution of Problems in Post-Soviet Russia at Georgetown, Washington College of Law (American University), Universidad Sergeo Arboleda (Bogota, Colombia), and the University of Baltimore. He gives related presentations at numerous events both in the United States and throughout the world, including those of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Burger has been an expert witness in administrative proceedings, arbitrations, and judicial matters and has been an arbitrator for the Washington, D.C. Bar’s Attorney/Client Arbitration Board for 12 years.