Prospective jurors in securities-fraud and hacking trial could be asked about the war in Ukraine
Universal Hub (Boston, MA)
A Russian businessman charged with running a financial hacking scheme against American companies is set to go on trial at the Moakley Courthouse at the end of the month.
In filings this week, both prosecutors and attorneys for Vladislav Klyushin submitted proposed questions for prospective jurors to US District Court Judge Patti Saris that would include determining whether jurors can fairly try a Russian in a time of war.
Klyushin has been held at a Plymouth County jail since December, 2021 to await trial on securities-fraud and hacking charges. The government alleges his Moscow company hacked into computers containing financial information of publicly held US companies before the data was released to the SEC and the public, letting the company make some $80 million in profits in stock trades based on insider information. He is being tried in Boston because the company allegedly used a Boston-area data center and VPN provider to hack into the servers.
Klyushin's lawyers asked Saris to pose several questions about Klyushin's nationality during jury selection, including:
Do you have any opinion about the war between Ukraine and Russia or allegations of Russian interference in United States elections that in any way impacts your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
There will be evidence that Mr. Klyushin's company, M-13, contracted to provide services to the Russian Federation. Does this in any way impact your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
Does the fact that Mr. Klyushin is a Russian national and not a United States citizen impact your ability to be fair and impartial in this case and presume him innocent of the charges?
Do you hold any negative feelings or opinions regarding wealthy and/or successful people that would impact your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
The US Attorney's office submitted its own questions, including:
The defendant is a citizen of Russia. Is there anything about the defendant's national origin that would cause you to be believe you could not be fair and decide this case on the evidence that is presented to you?
Technically, two of Klyushin's employees also face charges - one of them is also charged with trying to interfere with the 2016 elections - but they remain safely in the Russian Federation because, unlike Klyushin, they did not decide to go on a family skiing vacation in Switzerland, where, alerted by the FBI, authorities nabbed him as he walked from the private jet that had just landed after the flight from Moscow to the private helicopter that was to take them to a ski resort.