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Bill Browder, a Billionaire Accused of Being a Fraud and Liar

By John Ryan • Unz Review  • July 1, 2020

William “Bill” Browder has been a figure of some prominence on the world scene for the past decade. A few months back, Der Spiegel published a major exposé on him and the case of Sergei Magnitsky but the mainstream media completely ignored this report and so aside from Germany few people are aware of Browder’s background and the Magnitsky issue which resulted in sanctions on Russia.

Browder had gone to Moscow in 1996 to take advantage of the privatization of state companies by Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Browder founded Hermitage Capital Management, a Moscow investment firm registered in offshore Guernsey in the Channel Islands. For a time, it was the largest foreign investor in Russian securities. Hermitage Capital Management was rated as extremely successful after earning almost 3,000 percent in its operations between 1996 and December 2007.

During the corrupt Yeltsin years, with his business partner’s US $25 million, Browder amassed a fortune. Profiting from the large-scale privatizations in Russia from 1996 to 2006 his Hermitage firm eventually grew to $4.5 billion.

When Browder encountered financial difficulties with Russian authorities he portrayed himself as an anti-corruption activist and became the driving force behind the Magnitsky Act, which resulted in economic sanctions aimed at Russian officials. However, an examination of Browder’s record in Russia and his testimony in court cases reveals contradictions with his statements to the public and Congress, and raises questions about his motives in attacking corruption in Russia.

Although he has claimed that he was an ‘activist shareholder’ and campaigned for Russian companies to adopt Western-style governance, it has been reported that he cleverly destabilized companies he was targeting for takeover. Canadian blogger Mark Chapman has revealed that after Browder would buy a minority share in a company he would resort to lawsuits against this company through shell companies he controlled. This would destabilize the company with charges of corruption and insolvency. To prevent its collapse the Russian government would intervene by injecting capital into it, causing its stock market to rise—with the result that Browder’s profits would rise exponentially.

Later, through Browder’s Russian-registered subsidiaries, his accountant Magnitsky acquired extra shares in Russian gas companies such as Surgutneftegaz, Rosneft and Gazprom. This procedure enabled Browder’s companies to pay the residential tax rate of 5.5% instead of the 35% that foreigners would have to pay.

However, the procedure to bypass the Russian presidential decree that banned foreign companies and citizens from purchasing equities in Gazprom was an illegal act. Because of this and other suspected transgressions, Magnitsky was interrogated in 2006 and later in 2008. Initially he was interviewed as a suspect and then as an accused. He was then arrested and charged by Russian prosecutors with two counts of aggravated tax evasion committed in conspiracy with Bill Browder in respect of Dalnyaya Step and Saturn, two of Browder’s shell companies to hold shares that he bought. Unfortunately, in 2009 Magnitsky died in pre-trial detention because of a failure by prison officials to provide prompt medical assistance.

Browder has challenged this account and for years he has maintained that Magnitsky’s arrest and death were a targeted act of revenge by Russian authorities against a heroic anti-corruption activist.

It’s only recently that Browder’s position was challenged by the European Court of Human Rights who in its ruling on August 27, 2019 concluded that Magnitsky’s “arrest was not arbitrary, and that it was based on reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence.” And as such “The Russians had good reason to arrest Sergei Magnitsky for Hermitage tax evasion.”

“The Court observes that the inquiry into alleged tax evasion, resulting in the criminal proceedings against Mr Magnitskiy, started in 2004, long before he complained that prosecuting officials had been involved in fraudulent acts.”

Prior to Magnitsky’s arrest, because of what Russia considered to be questionable activities, Browder had been refused entry to Russia in 2005. However, he did not take lightly his rebuff by the post-Yeltsin Russian government under Vladimir Putin. As succinctly expressed by Professor Halyna Mokrushyna at the University of Ottawa:

[Browder] began to engage in a worldwide campaign against the Russian authorities, accusing them of corruption and violation of human rights. The death of his accountant and auditor Sergei Magnitsky while in prison became the occasion for Browder to launch an international campaign presenting the death as a ruthless silencing of an anti-corruption whistleblower. But the case of Magnitsky is anything but.

Despite Brower’s claims that Magnitsky died as a result of torture and beatings, authentic documents and testimonies show that Magnitsky died because of medical neglect – he was not provided adequate treatment for a gallstone condition. It was negligence typical at that time of prison bureaucracy, not a premeditated killing. Because of the resulting investigation, many high level functionaries in the prison system were fired or demoted.

For the past ten years Browder has maintained that Magnitsky was tortured and murdered by prison guards. Without any verifiable evidence he has asserted that Magnitsky was beaten to death by eight riot guards over 1 hour and 18 minutes. This was never corroborated by anybody, including by autopsy reports. It was even denied by Magnitsky’s mother in a video interview.

Nevertheless, on the basis of his questionable beliefs, he has carried on a campaign to discredit and vilify Russia and its government and leaders.

In addition to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, Browder’s basic underlying beliefs and assumptions are being seriously challenged. Very recently, on May 5, 2020, an American investigative journalist, Lucy Komisar, published an article with the heading Forensic photos of Magnitsky show no marks on torso:

On Fault Lines today I revealed that I have obtained never published forensic photos of the body of Sergei Magnitsky, William Browder’s accountant, that show not a mark on his torso. Browder claims he was beaten to death by prison guards. Magnitsky died at 9:30pm Nov 16, 2009, and the photos were taken the next day.

Later in her report she states:

I noted on the broadcast that though the photos and documents are solid, several dozen U.S. media – both allegedly progressive and mainstream — have refused to publish this information. And if that McCarthyite censorship continues, the result of rampant fear-inducing Russophobia, I will publish it and the evidence on this website.

Despite evidence such as this, till this day Browder maintains that Sergei Magnitsky was beaten to death with rubber batons. It’s this narrative that has attracted the attention of the US Congress, members of parliament, diplomats and human rights activists. To further refute his account, a 2011 analysis by the Physicians for Human Rights International Forensics Program of documents provided by Browder found no evidence he was beaten to death.

In his writings, as supposed evidence, Browder provides links to two untranslated Russian documents. They were compiled immediately after Magnitsky died on November 16, 2009. Recent investigative research has revealed that one of these appears to be a forgery. The first document D309 states that shortly before Magnitsky’s death: “Handcuffs were used in connection with the threat of committing an act of self-mutilation and suicide, and that the handcuffs were removed after thirty minutes.” To further support this, a forensic review states that while in the prison hospital “Magnitsky exhibited behavior diagnosed as “acute psychosis” by Dr. A. V. Gaus at which point the doctor ordered Mr. Magnitsky to be restrained with handcuffs.”

The second document D310 is identically worded to D309 except for a change in part of the preceding sentence. The sentence in D309 has the phrase special means were” is changed in D310 to “a rubber baton was.”

As such, while D309 is perfectly coherent, in D310 the reference to a rubber baton makes no sense whatsoever, given the title and text it shares with D309. This and other inconsistences, including signatures on these documents, make it apparent that D310 was copied from D309 and that D310 is a forgery. Furthermore, there is no logical reason for two almost identical reports to have been created, with only a slight difference in one sentence. There is no way of knowing who forged it and when, but this forged document forms a major basis for Browder’s claim that Magnitsky was clubbed to death.

The fact that there is no credible evidence to indicate that Magnitsky was subjected to a baton attack, combined with forensic photos of Magnitsky’s body shortly after death that show no marks on it, provides evidence that appears to repudiate Browder’s decade-long assertions that Magnitsky was viciously murdered while in jail.

With evidence such as this, it repeatedly becomes clear that Browder’s narrative contains mistakes and inconsistencies that distort the overall view of the events leading to Magnitsky’s death.

Despite Magnitsky’s death the case against him continued in Russia and he was found guilty of corruption in a posthumous trial. Actually, the trial’s main purpose was to investigate alleged fraud by Bill Browder, but to proceed with this they had to include the accountant Magnitsky as well. The Russian court found both of them guilty of fraud. Afterwards, the case against Magnitsky was closed because of his death.

After Browder was refused entry to Russia in November of 2005, he launched a campaign insisting that his departure from Russia resulted from his anti-corruption activities. However, the real reason for the cancellation of his visa that he never mentions is that in 2003 a Russian provincial court had convicted Browder of evading $40 million in taxes. In addition, his illegal purchases of shares in Gazprom through the use of offshore shell companies were reportedly valued at another $30 million, bringing the total figure of tax evasion to $70 million.

It’s after this that the Russian federal government next took up the case and initially went after Magnitsky, the accountant who carried out Browder’s schemes.

But back in the USA Browder portrayed himself as the ultimate truth-teller, and embellished his tale by asserting that Sergei Magnitsky was a whistleblowing “tax lawyer,” rather than one of Browder’s accountants implicated in tax fraud. As his case got more involved, he presented a convoluted explanation that he was not responsible for bogus claims made by his companies. This is indeed an extremely complicated matter and as such only a summary of some of this will be presented.

The essence of the case is that in 2007 three shell companies that had once been owned by Browder were used to claim a $232 million tax refund based on trumped-up financial loses. Browder has stated that the companies were stolen from him, and that in a murky operation organized by a convicted fraudster, they were re-registered in the names of others. There is evidence however that Magnitsky and Browder may have been part of this convoluted scheme.

Browder’s main company in Russia was Hermitage Capital Management, and associated with this firm were a large number of shell companies, some in the Russian republic of Kalmykia and some in the British Virgin Islands. A law firm in Moscow, Firestone Duncan, owned by Americans, did the legal work for Browder’s Hermitage. Sergei Magnitsky was one of the accountants for Firestone Duncan and was assigned to work for Hermitage.

An accountant colleague of Magnitsky’s at Firestone Duncan, Konstantin Ponomarev, was interviewed in 2017 by Lucy Komisar, an investigative journalist, who was doing research on Browder’s operations in Russia. In the ensuing report on this, Komisar states:

“According to Ponomarev, the firm – and Magnitsky — set up an offshore structure that Russian investigators would later say was used for tax evasion and illegal share purchases by Hermitage. . .

the structure helped Browder execute tax-evasion and illegal share purchase schemes.

“He said the holdings were layered to conceal ownership: The companies were “owned” by Cyprus shells Glendora and Kone, which, in turn, were “owned” by an HSBC Private Bank Guernsey Ltd trust. Ponomarev said the real owner was Browder’s Hermitage Fund. He said the structure allowed money to move through Cyprus to Guernsey with little or no taxes paid along the way. Profits could get cashed out in Guernsey by investors of the Hermitage Fund and HSBC.

“Ponomarev said that in 1996, the firm developed for Browder ‘a strategy of how to buy Gazprom shares in the local market, which was restricted for foreign investors.’”

In the course of their investigation, on June 2, 2007, Russian tax investigators raided the offices of Hermitage and Firestone Duncan. They seized Hermitage company documents, computers and corporate stamps and seals. They were looking for evidence to support Russian charges of tax evasion and illegal purchase of shares of Gazprom.

In a statement to US senators on July 27, 2017, Browder stated that Russian interior ministry officials “seized all the corporate documents connected to the investment holding companies of the funds that I advised. I didn’t know the purpose of these raids so I hired the smartest Russian lawyer I knew, a 35-year-old named Sergei Magnitsky. I asked Sergei to investigate the purpose of the raids and try to stop whatever illegal plans these officials had.”

Contrary to what Browder claims, Magnitsky had been his accountant for a decade. He had never acted as a lawyer, nor did he have the qualifications to do so. In fact in 2006 when questioned by Russian investigators, Magnitsky said he was an auditor on contract with Firestone Duncan. In Browder’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 he claimed Magnitsky was his lawyer, but in 2015 in his testimony under oath in the US government’s Prevezon case, Browder told a different story, as will now be related.

On Browder’s initiative, in December 2012 he presented documents to the New York District Attorney alleging that a Russian company Prevezon had “benefitted from part of the $230 million dollar theft uncovered by Magnitsky and used those funds to buy a number of luxury apartments in Manhattan.” In September 2013, the New York District Attorney’s office filed money-laundering charges against Prevezon. The company hired high-profile New York-based lawyers to defend themselves against the accusations.

As reported by Der Spiegel, Browder would not voluntarily agree to testify in court so Prevezon’s lawyers sent process servers to present him with a subpoena, which he refused to accept and was caught on video literally running away. In March 2015, the judge in the Prevezon case ruled that Browder would have to give testimony as part of pre-trial discovery. Later while in court and under oath and confronted with numerous documents, Browder was totally evasive. Lawyer Mark Cymrot spent six hours examining him, beginning with the following exchange:

Cymrot asked: Was Magnitsky a lawyer or a tax expert?

He was “acting in court representing me,” Browder replied.

And he had a law degree in Russia?

“I’m not aware he did.”

Did he go to law school?

“No.”

How many times have you said Mr. Magnitsky is a lawyer? Fifty? A hundred? Two hundred?

“I don’t know.”

Have you ever told anybody that he didn’t go to law school and didn’t have a law degree?

“No.”

Critically important, during the court case, the responsible U.S. investigator admitted during questioning that his findings were based exclusively on statements and documents from Browder and his team. Under oath, Browder was unable to explain how he and his people managed to track the flow of money and make the accusation against Prevezon. In his 2012 letter that launched the court case, Browder referred to “corrupt schemes” used by Prevezon, but when questioned under oath he admitted he didn’t know of any. In fact, to almost every question put forth by Mark Cymrot, Browder replied that he didn’t know or didn’t remember.

The case finally ended in May 2017 when the two sides reached a settlement. Denis Katsyv, the company’s sole shareholder, on a related matter agreed to pay nearly six million dollars to the US government, but would not have to admit any wrongdoing. Also the settlement contained an explicit mention that neither Katsyv nor his company Prevezon had anything to do with the Magnitsky case. Afterwards, one of Katsyv’s, lawyers, Natalia Veselnitskaya, exclaimed: “For the first time, the U.S. recognized that the Russians were in the right!”

A major exposé of the Browder-Russia story is presented in a film that came out in June 2016 The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes by the well-known independent filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov. Reference to this film will be made later but to provide a summary of the Browder tax evasion case some critical information can be obtained from a report by Eric Zuesse, an investigative historian, who managed to get a private viewing of the film by the film’s Production Manager.

In the film Nekrasov proceeds to unravel Browder’s story, which was designed to conceal his own corporate responsibility for the criminal theft of the money. As Browder’s widely accepted story collapses, Magnitsky is revealed not to be a whistleblower but a likely abettor to the fraud who died in prison not from an official assassination but from banal neglect of his medical condition. The film cleverly allows William Browder to self-destruct under the weight of his own lies and the contradictions in his story-telling at various times.

Following the raid by tax officials on the Moscow Hermitage office on June 2, 2007, nothing further on these matters was reported until April 9, 2008 when Ms Rimma Starlova, the figurehead director of the three supposedly stolen Browder shell companies, filed a criminal complaint with the Russian Interior Ministry in Kazan accusing representatives of Browder companies of the theft of state funds, i.e., $232 million in a tax-rebate fraud. Although Hermitage was aware of this report they kept quiet about it because they claimed it as a false accusation against themselves.

On September 23, 2008, there was a news report about a theft of USD 232 million from the Russian state treasury, and the police probe into it. On October 7, 2008, Magnitsky was questioned by tax investigators about the $232 million fraud because he was the accountant for Browder’s companies.

The central issue was that during September of 2007 three of Browder’s shell companies had changed owners and that afterwards fraud against Russian treasury had been conducted by the new owners of these companies.

According to Magnitsky the way that ownership changed was through powers of attorney. This is a matter that Browder never mentioned. The Nekrasov film shows a document: “Purchase agreement … based on this power of attorney, Gasanov represents Glendora Holdings Ltd.” Glendora Holdings is another shell company owned by Browder. This shows that Gasanov, the middleman, had the power of attorney connecting the new nominees to the real beneficiaries. However, Gasanov could not be questioned on whose orders he was doing this because shortly afterwards, he mysteriously died. No one proved that it was murder, but if that death was a coincidence, it wasn’t the only one.

During September 2007 the three Hermitage shell companies, Rilend, Parfenion and Mahaon, were re-registered by Gasanov to a company called Pluton that was registered in Kazan, and owned by Viktor Markelov, a Russian citizen with a criminal record. Markelov through a series of sham arbitration judgments conducted fake lawsuits that demanded damages for alleged contract violations. Once the damages were paid, in December 2007 the companies filed for tax refunds that came to $232 million. These were taxes that had been paid by these companies in 2006.

On February 5, 2008 the Investigative Committee of the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal case to investigate the fraud committed by Markelov and other individuals.

Markelov had hired a Moscow lawyer, Andrey Pavlov, to conduct these complex operations. Afterwards Pavlov was questioned by Russian authorities and revealed what had happened. Markelov was convicted and sentenced to five years for the scam. At his trial Markelov testified that he was not in possession of the $232 million tax refund and that he did not know the identity of the client who would benefit from the refund scheme. And till this day no one knows! However, Russian tax authorities suspect it is William Browder.

At his trial, Markelov testified that one of the people he worked with to secure the fraudulent tax refund was Sergei Leonidovich. Magnitsky’s full name was Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky. Also when questioned by the police, Markelov named Browder’s associates Khairetdinov and Kleiner as people involved in the company’s re-registration.

So this provides evidence that Magnitsky and Browder’s other officials were involved in the re-registration scheme – which Browder later called theft. In his film Nekrasov states that Browder’s team had set things up to look as if outsiders — not Browder’s team — had transferred the assets.

According to Nekrasov’s film documentation, Russian courts have established that it was the representatives of the Hermitage investment fund who had themselves voluntarily re-registered the Makhaon, Parfenion and Rilend companies in the name of other individuals, a fact that Mr Browder is seeking to conceal by shifting the blame, without any foundation, onto the law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation.

Indeed there is cause to be skeptical of the Browder narrative, and that the fraud was in fact concocted by Browder and his accountant Magnitsky. A Russian court has supported that alternative narrative, ruling in late December 2013 that Browder had deliberately bankrupted his company and engaged in tax evasion. On the basis of this he was sentenced to nine years prison in absentia.

In the meantime, over all these years, Browder has maintained and convinced the public at large that the $232 million fraud against the Russian treasury had been perpetrated by Magnitsky’s interrogators and Russian police. With respect to the “theft” of his three companies (or “vehicles as he refers to them) on September 16, 2008 he stated on his Hermitage website: “The theft of the vehicles was only possible using the vehicles’ original corporate documents seized by the Moscow Interior Ministry in its raid on Hermitage’s law firm in Moscow on 4 June 2007.”

As such, Browder is accusing Russian tax authorities and police for conducting this entire fraudulent operation.

In his film Nekrasov says that the Browder version is: “Yes, the crime took place [$232 million fraud against the public treasury but, according to Browder, actually against Browder’s firm], but somebody else did it — the police did it.”

In this convoluted tale, it should be recalled that the fraud against the Russian treasury had first been reported to the police by Rimma Starlova on April 9, 2008. This had been recorded on the Hermitage website. In preparing the material for his film, Nekrasov noted that

“In March 2009, Starlova’s report disappeared from Hermitage’s website. . . . This is the same time that Magnitsky started to be treated as an analyst . . . who discovered the $232 million fraud. Thus the Magnitsky-the-whistleblower story was born, almost a year after the matter had been reported to the police.”

Nekrasov’s film also undermines the basis of Browder’s case that Magnitsky had been killed by the police because he had accused two police officials, Karpov and Kuznetsov, but this is questionable since documents show Magnitsky had not accused anyone. As Nekrasov states in the film: “The problem is, he [Magnitsky] made no accusations. In that testimony, its record contains no accusations. … Mr. Magnitsky did not actually testify against the two officers [Karpov and Kuznetsov].” So this factual evidence should destroy Browder’s accusations.

It should be noted Magnitsky’s original interview with authorities was as a suspect, not a whistleblower. Also contradicting Browder’s claims, Nekrasov notes that Magnitsky does not even mention the names of the police officers in a key statement to authorities.

In his film Nekrasov includes an interview that he had with Browder regarding the issues about Magnitsky. Nekrasov confronts Browder with the core contradictions of his story. Incensed, Browder rises up and threatens the filmmaker:

Anybody who says that Sergei Magnitsky didn’t expose the crime before he was arrested is just trying to whitewash the Russian Government. … Are you trying to say that Pavel Karpov is innocent? I’d really be careful about your going out and saying that Magnitsky wasn’t a whistleblower. That’s not going to do well for your credibility.” Browder then walks off in a huff.

Nekrasov claims to be especially struck that the basis of Browder’s case — that Magnitsky had been killed by the police because he had accused two police officials, Karpov and Kuznetsov — is a lie because there is documentary evidence that Magnitsky had not accused anyone.

Because of Browder’s accusations, Nekrasov interviewed Pavel Karpov, the police officer who Browder accused of being involved in Magnitsky’s alleged murder, despite the fact that Karpov was not on duty the day Magnitsky died.

Karpov presents Nekrasov with documents that Browder’s case was built on. These original documents are actually fundamentally different from the way Browder had described them. This documentary evidence further exposes Browder’s story for what it is.

Nekrasov asks Karpov why Browder wants to demonize him. Karpov explains that he had pursued Browder in 2004 for tax evasion, so that seems to be the reason why Browder smears him. And then Karpov says, “Having made billions here, Browder forgot to tell how he did it. So it suits him to pose as a victim. He is wanted here, but Interpol is not looking for him.”

Afterwards in 2013, Karpov had tried to sue Browder for libel in a London court, but was not able to on the basis of procedural grounds since he was a resident of Russia and not the UK. However at the conclusion of the case, set out in his Judgment the presiding judge, Justice Simon, made some interesting comments.

“The causal link which one would expect from such a serious charge is wholly lacking; and nothing is said about torture or murder. In my view these are inadequate particulars to justify the charge that the Claimant was a primary or secondary party to Sergei Magnitsky’s torture and murder, and that he would continue to commit or ’cause’ murder, as pleaded in §60 of the Defence.

The Defendants have not come close to pleading facts which, if proved, would justify the sting of the libel.”

In other words – in plain English – in the judge’s view, Karpov was not in any sense party to Magnitsky’s death, and Browder’s claim that he was is not valid.

On the basis of the evidence that has been presented, it is undeniable that Browder’s case appears to be a total misrepresentation, not only of Magnitsky’s statements, but of just about everything else that’s important in the case .

On a separate matter, on April 15, 2015 in a New York court case involving the US government and a Russian company, Previzon Holdings, Bill Browder had been ordered by a judge to give a deposition to Prevezon’s lawyers.

Throughout this deposition, Browder (now under oath) contradicted virtually every aspect of his Magnitsky narrative and stated “I don’t recall” when pressed about key portions of his narrative that he had previously repeated unabashedly in his testimonies to Congress and interviews with Western media. Browder “remembered nothing” and could not even deny asking Magnitsky to take responsibility for his (Browder’s) crimes.

As a further example of Browder’s dishonesty, in one of his publications, he shows a photo of an alleged employee of Browder’s law firm, Firestone Duncan, named “Victor Poryugin” with vicious facial wounds from allegedly being tortured and beaten by police. However, the person shown was never with Browder’s firm. Instead, this is a photo of “an American human rights campaigner beaten up during a street protest in 1961.” It was Jim Zwerg, civil-rights demonstrator, during the 1960s, in the American South. Nekrasov was appalled and found it almost unimaginable that Browder would switch photos like that to demonize Russia and its police.

Browder was arrested by the Spanish police in June 2018. Even though Russia has on six occasions requested Browder’s arrest through Interpol for tax fraud, the Spanish national police determined that Browder had been detained in error because the international warrant was no longer valid and released him.

A further matter that reflects on his character, William Browder, the American-born co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management is now a British citizen. The US taxes offshore earnings, but the UK does not. Highly likely because of this, in 1998 he gave up his American citizenship and became a British citizen and thereby has avoided paying US taxes on foreign investments. Nevertheless, he still has his family home in Princeton, NJ and also owns a $11 million dollar vacation home in Aspen, Colorado.

To put this in political context, Browder’s narrative served a strong geopolitical purpose to demonize Russia at the dawn of the New Cold War. As such, Browder played a major role in this. In fact, the late celebrated American journalist Robert Parry thought that Browder single-handedly deserves much of the credit for the new Cold War.

Browder’s campaign was so effective that in December 2012 he exploited Congressional willingness to demonize Russia, and as a result the US Congress passed a bipartisan bill, the Magnitsky Act, which was then signed by President Obama. U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and John McCain were instrumental in pushing through the Magnitsky Act, based on Browder’s presentations.

However, key parts of the argument that passed into law in this act have been shown to be based on fraud and fabrication of ‘evidence.’ This bill blacklisted Russian officials who were accused of being involved in human-rights abuses.

In her analysis of the Magnitsky Act, Lucy Komisar, an investigative journalist, reveals a little known fact:

“A problem with the Magnitsky Act is that there is no due process. The targets are not told the evidence against them, they cannot challenge accusations or evidence in a court of law in order to get off the list. This “human rights law” violates the rule of law. There is an International Court with judges and lawyers to deal with human rights violators, but the US has not ratified its jurisdiction. Because it does not want to be subject to the rules it applies to others.”

In 2017, Congress passed the Global Magnitsky Act, which enables the U.S. to impose sanctions against Russia for human rights violations worldwide.

In a move that history will show to be ill-advised, on October 18, 2017 Canada’s Parliament and Senate unanimously approved Bill 226, a ‘Magnitsky Act.’ It mimics the US counterpart and targets Russia for further economic sanctions. Russia immediately denounced Canada’s actions as being counter-productive, pointless and reprehensible. Actually an act of this type had been opposed by Stéphane Dion while he was Canada’s minister of foreign affairs because he viewed it as a needless provocation against Russia. Dion also stated that adoption of a ‘Magnitsky Act’ would hurt the interests of Canadian businesses dealing with Russia and would thwart Canada’s attempt’s to normalize relations with Russia. However, Dion was replaced by Chrystia Freeland who immediately pushed this through. This is not surprising considering her well-documented Nazi family background and who is persona non grata in Russia.

A version of the Magnitsky Act was enacted in the UK and the Baltic republics in 1917.

In early 2020 a proposal to enact a version of the Magnitsky Act was presented to the Australian parliament and it is still under consideration. There has been considerable opposition to it including a detailed report by their Citizens Party, which exposes the full extent of Browder’s fraud and chicanery.

The investigation into Browder’s business activities in Russia is still an ongoing endeavour. On October 24, 2017 the

Russian Prosecutor General, Yuri Chaika, requested the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a probe into alleged tax evasion by Bill Browder, who in 2013 had already been sentenced in absentia to 9 years in prison in Russia for a similar crime.

Browder at that time was still being tried in Russia for suspected large-scale money laundering, also in absentia. Chaika added that Russian law enforcement possesses information that over $1 billion was illegally transferred from the country into structures connected with Bill Browder.

The Prosecutor General also asked Sessions to reconsider the Magnitsky Act. As he put it,

“… from our standpoint, the act was adopted for no actual reason, while it was lobbied by people who had committed crimes in Russia. In our view, there are grounds to claim that this law lacks real foundation and that its passing was prompted by criminals’ actions.”

It’s not known if Sessions ever responded to the Russian Prosecutor General. In any event, President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on November 7, 2018. As such it’s evident that Russia’s concerns about Browder’s dishonest activities are stymied.

Extensive reference has already been made to the film that came out in June 2016 The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes by the independent filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov. When Nekrasov started the film he had fully believed Browder’s story but as he delved into what really happened, to his surprise, he discovered that the case documents and other incontrovertible facts revealed Browder to be a fraud and a liar. The ensuing film presents a powerful deconstruction of the Magnitsky myth, but because of Browder’s political connections and threats of lawsuits, the film has been blacklisted in the entire “free world.” So much for the “free world’s” freedom of the press and media. This film is not available on YouTube or anywhere else.

The documentary was set for a premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2016, but at the last moment – faced with Browder’s legal threats – the parliamentarians cancelled the showing.

There were hopes to show the documentary to members of Congress but the offer was rebuffed. Despite the frantic attempts by Browder’s lawyers to block this documentary film from being shown anywhere, Washington’s Newseum, to its credit, had a one-time showing on June 13, 2016, including a question-and-answer session with Andrei Nekrasov, moderated by journalist Seymour Hersh. Except for that audience, the public of the United States and Europe has been essentially shielded from the documentary’s discoveries, all the better for the Magnitsky myth to retain its power as a seminal propaganda moment of the New Cold War.

Nekrasov’s powerful deconstruction of the Magnitsky myth – and the film’s subsequent blacklisting throughout the “free world” – recall other instances in which the West’s propaganda lines don’t stand up to scrutiny, so censorship and ad hominem attacks become the weapons of choice to defend “perception management.”

Other than the New York Times that had a lukewarm review, the mainstream media condemned the film and its showing. As such, with the exception of that one audience, the public in the USA, Canada and Europe has been shielded from the documentary’s discoveries. The censorship of this film has made it a good example of how political and legal pressure can effectively black out what we used to call “the other side of the story.”

Andrei Nekrasov is still prepared to go to court to defend the findings of his film, but Bill Browder has refused to do this and simply keeps maligning the film and Mr. Nekrasov.

Recent Developments

Although for almost the past ten years Browder’s self-serving story had been accepted almost worldwide and served to help vilify Russia, in the past few months there has been an awakening to the true state of affairs about Browder.

The first such article “The Case of Sergei Magnitsky: Questions Cloud Story Behind U.S. Sanctions” written by Benjamin Bidder, a German journalist, appeared on November 26, 2019 in Der Spiegel. At the outset Bidder states:

“Ten years after his death, inconsistencies in Magnitsky’s story suggest he may not have been the hero many people — and Western governments — believed him to be. Did the perfidious conspiracy to murder Magnitsky ever really take place? Or is Browder a charlatan whose story the West was too eager to believe? The certainty surrounding the Magnitsky affair becomes muddled in the documents, particularly the clear division between good and evil. The Russian authorities’ take is questionable, but so is everyone else’s — including Bill Browder’s.

But with the Magnitsky sanctions, it could be that the activist Browder used a noble cause to manipulate Western governments.”

In summation, the article raises serious questions about many aspects of Browder’s account. It concluded that his narrative was riddled with lies and said Western nations have fallen for a “convenient” story made up by a “fraudster.

The report provoked Browder’s fury, and he swiftly filed a complaint against Der Spiegel with the German Press Council as well as a complaint to the editor of Der Spiegel.

On December 17, 2019 Der Spiegel responded: “Why DER SPIEGEL Stands Behind Its Magnitsky Reporting.” In a lengthy detailed response the journal rejects all aspects of Browder’s complaint. They point out the inconsistencies in Browder’s version of events and demonstrate that he is unable to present sufficient proof for his claims. They state: We believe his complaint has no basis and would like to review why we have considerable doubts about Browder’s story and why we felt it necessary to present those doubts publicly.”

Their report is highly enlightening and will have long-term consequences. It is one of the best refutations of Browder’s falsified accounts that led to the Magnitsky Act. It exposes Browder as a fraud and his Magnitsky story as a fake. Despite all this, this exposé was ignored in the mainstream media so most people are unaware of these revelations. A good review of it is presented by Lucy Komisar in her article The Der Spiegel exposé of Bill Browder, December 6, 2019.

The German Press Council rejected Browder’s complaint against Der Spiegel in January 2020 but Browder did not disclose this so it became known only in early May. Lucy Komisar reported this on May 12 and the main points of the Council’s rejection are presented in her account. Browder had complained that the article had serious factual errors. The Press Council stated that Browder’s position lacks proof and there could be no objection to Der Spiegel’s examination of events leading to Magnitsky’s death. All other Browder objections were rejected as well. In summation the Council stated: “Overall, we could not find a violation of journalistic principles.”

But the action of the press council has not been reported in the Canadian, U.S. or UK media. Nor was the November Der Spiegel report.

The German Press Council ruling follows a December 2019 Danish Press Board ruling against another Browder complaint over an article by a Danish financial news outlet, Finans.dk, on his tax evasion and invented Magnitsky story. Significantly, both the Danish and German cases involve mainstream media, which usually toe the US-UK-NATO strategic line against Russia, which Browder’s story serves. And these press complaint rulings follow a September 2019 European Court of Human Rights ruling that there was credible evidence that Magnitsky and Browder were engaged in a conspiracy to commit tax fraud and that Magnitsky was rightfully charged.

In summation, for ten years or more, no one in the West ever seriously challenged Bill Browder’s account of what happened to his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky and his stories of corruption and malfeasance in Russia. This is what allowed him to get such influence that the Magnitsky Act was passed, despite Russia’s attempts to clarify matters.

But when pressure was exerted on Germany to install a Magnitsky Act, one of their most influential journals Der Spiegel published an investigative bombshell picking apart Browder’s story about his auditor Sergei Magnitsky’s death. Browder immediately lashed out at Der Spiegel, accusing it of “misrepresenting the facts.” However, his outraged objections backfired and resulted in a further even more damaging Der Spiegel article and a rebuke from the German Press Council.

At long last, thanks to Der Spiegel, its investigative reports have effectively rejected and discredited Browder’s claim that Magnitsky was a courageous whistleblower who exposed corruption in Russia and was mercilessly killed by authorities out of revenge.

Despite this important and significant course of events, because of its imbedded Russophobia, the mainstream media have completely ignored the Der Spiegel exposé and almost nowhere has this been reported. To some extent this is because Browder has used his fortune to threaten lawsuits for anyone who challenges his version of events, effectively silencing many critics. Hence aside from people in Germany, this has been a non-event and the Browder hoax still prevails. Given this, it is important for us to publicize this revelation as best we can.

John Ryan, Ph.D. is a Retired Professor of Geography and Senior Scholar, University of Winnipeg

July 1, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Film Review, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Anti-Russian sanctions based on fraudster’s tales? Spiegel finds Magnitsky narrative fed to West by Browder is riddled with lies

RT | November 24, 2019

British investor Bill Browder has made a name for himself in the West through blaming Moscow for the death of his auditor, Sergey Magnitsky. Der Spiegel has picked apart his story and uncovers it has major credibility problems.

For years Browder – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s self-proclaimed “enemy number one” and head of the Hermitage Capital Management fund – has been waging what can only be described as his personal anti-Russian campaign.

The passionate Kremlin critic relentlessly lobbied for sanctions against Russian officials everywhere from the US to Europe – all under the premise of seeking justice for his deceased employee, who died in Russia, while in pre-trial detention, where he’d been placed while accused of complicity in a major tax evasion scheme.

Browder, who was himself sentenced in absentia by a Russian court to nine years in prison for tax evasion, and was later found guilty of embezzlement as well, presented Magnitsky as a fearless whistleblower who exposed a grand corruption scheme within the Russian law enforcement system, and who was then mercilessly killed out of revenge.

The investor has succeeded in feeding this narrative to the Western governments and the mainstream media alike, prompting the US to adopt the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which allowed the US to sanction numerous Russian officials and businessmen over alleged human rights violations. Some American allies, including Canada and the UK, later followed suit and passed similar motions, which either allowed the sanctioning of Russian officials or called on their governments to do it.

Yet, the businessman, who has over the years donned the mantle of a human rights campaigner, does not plan to stop at that and is now lobbying for an EU-wide equivalent of the Magnitsky Act, which would allow the banning of Russian officials from the bloc’s countries and the freezing of their accounts.

On the tenth anniversary of the auditor’s death, the German weekly Der Spiegel has decided to take a closer look at Browder’s story about Magnitsky. And the paper found out that the narrative doesn’t quite flow as smoothly as Western politicians and the MSM would like it to.

No hero

The whistleblower image Browder has built for Magnitsky starts splitting at the seams from the very beginning, as Browder appears to be dishonest, even in minor details like his claim that Magnitsky was his lawyer, Der Spiegel’s Benjamin Bidder reveals in his investigative bombshell.

The problem is that he was not. The man was an auditor, who was hired by Browder’s company as a tax specialist and then worked in this capacity for years with the US-born British investor. Browder himself had to admit this fact when he was questioned in a US court while seeking to make the US impose sanctions on yet another group of Russian entrepreneurs.

Magnitsky’s role as a whistleblower also comes into question as the deceased auditor’s former lawyer confirmed to Der Spiegel’s Bidder that his client had, in fact, been summoned by Russian investigators to provide testimony in a tax evasion case that opened at least months before he came up with his corruption allegations.

Other documents obtained by Der Spiegel, including Magnitsky’s unpublished emails, also suggest that Magnitksy acted not of his own volition but on the instructions of Browder’s senior lawyer, at a time when the Russian authorities had already been investigating dubious letterbox companies Browder supposedly had used in his tax evasion scheme for years.

Finally, the records of Magnitsky’s interrogation, released by Browder’s own people on the internet and seen by Der Spiegel, show that he’d never explicitly accused Russian police officers Artyom Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov, whom Browder declared to be the masterminds behind the supposed corruption affair, and ultimately behind the auditor’s murder.

This fact was also implicitly confirmed by a UK court, which issued a ruling on a libel lawsuit filed by Karpov against Browder in 2012. Although the court ruled that Karpov simply had no prior reputation to defend in the UK and rejected his claim, it still called Browder a “storyteller,” arguing that he could not even come “close to substantiating his allegations with facts.” The British media, however, presented the verdict as a resounding victory for Browder.

No murder

The German weekly also found similar inconsistencies in the story of the auditor’s supposed murder, as told by Browder. In his claims, the businessman constantly refers to a report by the Moscow Public Monitoring Commissions (PMC) – an independent, non-governmental body consisting of rights advocates that conducted its own thorough investigation into Magnitsky’s death.

Browder maintains that Magnitsky was deliberately murdered. Yet, the commission’s report, which is still freely available on its website, contains no claim of this sort. The commission does decry the harsh jail conditions which the auditor was kept in, and accuses the Russian authorities of failing to fulfil its duty to protect his life. However, it says nothing of murder.

It is not just the text of this report that Browder has apparently distorted, though. In August, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a ruling on Magnitsky’s case, ordering Russia to pay his widow and mother €34,000 ($38,000) in damages.

Browder was quick to hail this decision as “destroying the Russian government’s narrative” and proving that “the Russian government murdered Magnitsky.” However, it would seem Browder’s own narrative was dealt a blow instead.

The ECHR never even mentioned the word “murder” in its ruling. Instead it said that Russia basically failed “to protect Mr Magnitsky’s right to life” by providing inadequate medical care and failed “to ensure an effective investigation into the circumstances of his death.”

It even concluded that Magnitsky’s arrest “was not arbitrary, and that it was based on reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence” – though it did also say there was no “justification” for his lengthy pre-trial detention.

Buying into convenient narrative

In his investigative report, Der Spiegel’s Benjamin Bidder eventually concludes that, although Magnitsky might have fallen victim to some “gruesome injustice,” his image is still far from that painted by Browder in his efforts to pit Russia and the West against each other.

“A question arises whether there has ever been a perfidious political murder plot or the West simply was made to buy into the lie of a fraudster.”

The journalist says that Browder’s “justice for Magnitsky” campaign might have, in fact, been part of his own “personal revenge” on Russia, one that uses the auditor’s fate as fuel for an “argumentative perpetual motion” that helps the businessman himself stay afloat in the sea of Western politics.

Yet, there is another question that needs to be asked: Why did Western politicians and the media support Browder’s narrative so eagerly, without even fact-checking it first? The answer is simple.

According to Bidder, Browder is “so successful because his narrative seems to fit perfectly with the devastating image” that Russia has in the West, making it much more convenient for the media to just toe the line instead of questioning it.

Also on rt.com:

Tycoon who pushed Magnitsky Act warns EU minister that opposing Russia-bashing is ‘career ruining’

CNN enlists help of fraudster Browder & Integrity Initiative ‘experts’ to fan Russia meddling claims in UK

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Stakes Rise in Browder-Gate – EU Threatens Cyprus with Article 7

By Tom Luango | September 15, 2018

It’s been quite a week for Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty. First Hungary and now Cyprus. And all because of some guy named Bill Browder?

Despite numerous warnings and obstacles, Cyprus continues to assist Russia in investigating the finances of Bill Browder. This has resulted in letters of warning to Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades as well as lawsuits by Browder citing the investigation violates his human rights.

Like everything else in this world, just ask Browder.

Last fall Browder and 17 MEP’s launched a two-pronged assault on Cyprus to end their assisting Russia’s investigation into Browder. Browder with the lawsuit. The MEP’s with a letter of warning.

The lawsuit has failed, however. The Nicosia District Court handed down a ruling recently which allowed for Browder to sue for damages to his reputation but not putting an injunction on the investigation.

More than a month ago the Nicosia District Court said that the cooperation with Russia in its politically motivated probe would violate the human rights of Bill Browder and his associate Ivan Cherkasov and the two would have good prospects in claiming damages from the government. Still, the court rejected Browder’s application for an order preventing Cypriot authorities from cooperating with Russia in its proceedings against him on the grounds that any damage would not be irreparable.

And this is where this gets interesting.

Because now in light of this ruling the stakes have been raised. Four of those original 17 MEP’s, many of whom are on the infamous “Soros List” as being in the pay of Open Society Foundation, sent a more serious letter of warning to Anastasaides threatening Cyprus with censure via Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty for not upholding the European Union’s standards on human rights.

Now this is a dangerous escalation in service of an investigation into someone who, agree or not, Russia has a legitimate interest in pursuing. Dismissing all of Russia’s concerns about Browder as ‘politically motivated’ is pure grandstanding. It carries no weight of law and stinks of a far deeper and more serious corruption.

Because if Browder was as pure as the driven snow as he presents himself to the world then he would have no issue whatsoever in Cyprus opening up his books to Russia and put his question of guilt to rest once and for all.

The ruling from the court stated that Cypriot officials are not barred from helping Russia get to the bottom of Browder’s web of offshore accounts, all of which, according to Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, run through Cyprus.

From RT last year:

“He [Browder] is afraid of the Russian probe that has conclusive evidence of his financial crimes and proof that his theory of Magnitsky’s death is an absolute fake. That’s why Browder is ready to stage any provocation,” Veselnitskaya said. She went on to say that the investor’s decision to intervene was particularly “influenced by the fact that the entire network of offshore companies that make up his organized criminal group is located on the territory of Cyprus.”

The incident that Veselnitskaya was referring to took place in late October 2017. At that time, 17 members of the European Parliament appealed to Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades in an open letter, in which they called on him to stop assisting Russia in its investigation against Browder.

Remember, Veselnitskaya was the woman who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 campaign. She was adamant she had information that was pertinent to them.  The Mueller probe and the media tried to spin that meeting as her giving Trump access to Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

But what she was really trying to give them was the low-down on Browder, the Magnitsky Act and the whole rotten, sordid history of him, Edmund Safra of Republic National Bank and the raping of Russia by them and others in the 1990’s.

And to show Trump that the Magnitsky Act was built on a lie and the sanctions against Russia should be lifted because of this.

Some of this I covered in an earlier article.

The Real Browder Story

And this is the whole point.  Browder’s story is fiction.

Magnitsky was his accountant and not his lawyer, who knew all about his dealings and could convict Browder of a raft of crimes far greater than the ones Russia already has in absentia.

Putin had no interest in having Magnitsky executed or beaten to death in prison. If anyone had an incentive to keep Magnitsky alive it was Vladimir Putin. If anyone had incentive to have Magnitsky die in prison it was Browder. And so, the whole story that Browder has woven, the myth around himself is so insane that it bears repeating over and over.

Browder’s story is fiction.

Because when you stop and put all the pieces together you realize a number of things and none of them are good.

First, Browder was deeply enmeshed in the plot to frame Yeltsin for stealing $7 billion in IMF money which created the conditions for bringing Putin to power.

Second, he, Mihail Khordokovsky and others have systematically lobbied Congress and the European Parliament to peddle this false story of the brave freedom fighter Magnitsky against the evil Putin to get revenge, in Khordokovsky’s case, on Putin for deposing him from power in Russia and stealing back the wealth Khordokovsky stole during the Yelstin years, namely Yukos.

And for Browder it was the culmination of years of work to destroy Russia from within and stay one step ahead of the hangman’s noose. His 2015 book Red Notice is a work of near fiction as outlined by Alex Krainer in his book The Grand Deception: The Truth About Bill Browder, The Magnitsky Act and Anti-Russia Sanctions.

And the Magnitsky Act was the way everyone interested who can prove this could be silenced through sanctions.

But, it’s bigger than that.

This was policy.

The Magnitsky Act is a lynchpin of American and European foreign policy to destroy Russia and subjugate the world.

It was enacted alongside other legislation to take back control of the political narrative of the world; rein in free speech on the internet by tying any activity not approved of by The Davos Crowd to be subject to sanctions on the nebulous basis of ‘human rights violations.’

The Magnitsky Act has weaponized virtue-signaling and, in my mind it was intentionally done to open up another path to protect the most vile and venal people in the world to arrogate power to themselves without consequence.

Today we stand on the brink of an open hot war between the U.S. and Russia because of the lies which have been stacked on top of each other in service of this monstrous piece of legislation.

With each day it and its follow-up, last year’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), are used as immense hammers to bring untold misery to millions around the world.

People like Browder are nothing by petty thieves. It is obvious to me he started out as a willing pawn because he was young, hungry and vaguely psychopathic. The deeper he got in it the more erratic his behavior became.

Browder is being protected by powerful people in the U.S. and EU not because he’s so important but because exposing him exposes them.

This is why another country is being threatened with the stripping of what few rights sovereign nations have within the EU, Cyprus, over his books.

Poland stood up for Hungary the other day over ideological reasons. No one seems ready to stand up to the conspiracy surrounding Browder, Khordokovsky and the Magnitsky Act.

But, if someone in power finally does, it could change everything we think we know about geopolitics.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-CIA Officer: Russiagate Proponent Bill Browder ‘Should be in Jail’

Investor William Browder

© Sputnik / Alejandro Martinez Velez
Sputnik – August 16, 2018

The only way to topple Bill Browder’s anti-Russia narrative is to get both the mainstream media and members of the US Congress to start looking into the US financier’s claims and publicly question them, Philip Giraldi, a former CIA case officer and US Army intelligence officer, told Sputnik.

Browder established Hermitage Capital Management, an investment fund and asset management company, in the late 1990s in Moscow with fellow co-founder Edmond Safra. The company was a thriving business up until November 2005, when it was blacklisted by Russian officials for being a national security threat to the country.

Two years later, Browder’s company was raided by Russian authorities, who obtained several documents, including some relating to three of his holding companies. According to Browder, the seized paperwork allowed these so-called corrupt officials to claim a rebate of $230 million from the Russian state treasury.

Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant for the company, was later arrested and jailed over the matter. Months later, he died, sparking speculation that he was killed in order to end accusations that Russian officials were behind the multimillion dollar theft. This is a claim that Browder has shared with the masses to direct attention away from his own alleged white-collar crimes.

​Giraldi told Radio Sputnik’s Fault Lines on Wednesday that Browder “is probably the most dangerous guy in the world” when it comes to spreading anti-Russian sentiment.

“He’s basically been the one who appears on the networks, appears before Congress,” Giraldi told hosts Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan. “He is someone that they’ve [US officials] decided has to be the spokesperson in terms of what’s going on in Russia, and yet… he has a hidden agenda as a potential criminal.”

It should be noted that up until Browder was blacklisted and subsequently had his offices raided, he was a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has since flipped sides, now referring to himself as Putin’s “Public Enemy #1.”

In time, Browder’s allegations led to Congress passing the Magnitsky Act in 2012, allowing the punishment of those responsible for the accountant’s death. The bill clears the way for the US government to sanction human rights offenders, freezing their assets and banning them from entering the US.

But the tide is turning against Browder, who’s known to many as leading the campaign to reveal Russia’s human rights abuses and so-called corruption, according to Giraldi. “I think the story is growing; I’m seeing more and more references to Browder in a negative way.”

However, he added that the only way to fight Browder’s crusade is to simply get the message out on mainstream media.

“The problem is that we have to get this at a level where Browder is doing his damage, and that’s in the mainstream media, places like The New York Times, and also to have some people in Congress begin to speak up and say, ‘Hey, what about the Magnitsky Act and everything that we did to provoke a crisis with Russia based on what Browder was telling us?'” he told Nixon. “Once you understand that, you realize that Browder, if anything, should be in jail.”

“That’s what we have to get through to that level, which is a tough level to get through to,” he added.

Browder’s name recently began to pop up in headlines after Putin suggested during the Helsinki summit that he would allow special counsel Robert Mueller to interrogate the 12 Russian officials who’d been indicted for allegedly hacking into US computer systems during the 2016 presidential election in exchange for Russian investigators interviewing Browder and other US persons.

See Also:

‘It Must Be Seen’: Filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov Urges Public to See Magnitsky Film

Cyprus Court Rejects Request to Ban Work With Russia on Browder Case – Reports

August 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes from Piraya Film AS on Vimeo

The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes from Piraya Film AS on Vimeo

A 2 hour 32 min version of THE MAGNITSKY ACT – BEHIND THE SCENES had its world premiere at an invitation-only screening at Filmens Hus in Oslo, Norway, on June 25th, 2016. Since then, the film has been shown (and awarded) at several international film festivals. Personal copies have also been sent to hundreds of journalists, politicians and others who have expressed interest in the film, given the film’s high-profile political content.

However, more than two years after its world premiere, the film has not yet been released to the general public. It has not been broadcast on TV, nor been screened at cinemas, released on DVD or made available online. Many dissatisfied members of the audience have asked Piraya Film why they cannot see the film.

The answer is that an attack campaign was launched by the British financier Bill Browder (who appears in the film) against the film and the filmmakers while the film was still under production. This campaign was backed by, among others, individuals in the US State Department, CIA, various think tanks and human rights organizations, and included smear tactics in the press and in various other settings. The campaign succeeded in blocking planned screenings at the European Parliament and at a Norwegian film festival. The film was partly financed by several TV stations, and normal procedure for a documentary would be that these TV stations broadcast the film first. However, the involved TV stations were subject to both political and legal pressure, and have, until this date, not published the film.

One individual decided to leak his personal copy of the film to the internet in July 2018. We have worked hard to remove this from YouTube and various other sites, but we see that it is impossible to stop this illegal copy from spreading. With the film out like that, in an illegal manner and in breach of our copyright, we have decided to release THE MAGNITSKY ACT – BEHIND THE SCENES on Vimeo on Demand. We urge the public to support our work by seeing it here. With Browder as the main source of a disinformation campaign against the film and filmmakers, we have a need to counter the libel and defend ourselves through letting the public see the film.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Film Review, Video | , | Leave a comment

The Untouchable Mr. Browder?

The Browder affair is a heady upper-class Jewish cocktail of money, spies, politicians and international crime

By Israel Shamir | Unz Review | June 20, 2016

Chapeau, Mr Browder! Hats off for this incredible man. Last month, he succeeded in stopping a film screening in the European parliament and took off a few articles from American web sites. This week, he turned the only US screening of a film critical to his version of events into a ruckus. No freedom of speech for his enemies! His lawyers prowl around and issue summons to whoever digs in his sordid affairs. His hacks re-wrote his Wikipedia entry, expunging even discussions of the topic: despite hundreds of edits, nothing survived but the official version. Only a few powerful men succeed purifying their record to such an extent. Still, good fortune (a notoriously flighty lady) is about to desert Mr Browder.

Who is this extremely influential man? A businessman, a politician, a spy? The American-born Jewish tycoon William Browder, says The Jewish Chronicle, considers himself Putin’s Number One enemy. For him, Putin is “no friend of the Jews”, “cold-blooded killer” and even “criminal dictator who is not too different from Hitler, Mussolini or Gadhafi”. More to a point, Browder is the man who contributed most to the new cold war between the West and Russia. The roots were there, still he made them blossom. If the US and Russia haven’t yet exchanged nuclear salvos, do not blame Browder: he tried. For a valid reason, too: he was hit by cruel Hitler-like Mr Putin into his most susceptible spot, namely his pocket. Or was there even a better reason?

Browder, a grandson of the US Communist leader, came to Russia at its weakest point after the Soviet collapse, and grabbed an enormous fortune by opaque financial transactions. Such fortunes are not amassed by the pure of spirit. He was a ruthless man who did as much as any oligarch to enrich himself.

Eventually he ran afoul of Mr Putin, who was (and is) very tolerant of oligarchs as long as they play by the rules. The oligarchs would not be oligarchs if they would found that an easy condition. Some of them tried to fight back: Khodorkovsky landed in jail, Berezovsky and Gusinsky went to exile. Browder had a special position: he was the only Jewish oligarch in Russia who never bothered to acquire the Russian citizenship. He was barred from returning to Russia, and his companies were audited and found wanting.

As you’d expect, huge tax evasion was discovered. Browder thought that as long as he sucked up to Putin, he’d get away with bloody murder, let alone tax evasion. He was mistaken. Putin is nobody’s fool. Flatterers do not get a free ride in Putin’s Russia. And Browder became too big for his boots.

It turned out that he did two unforgivable things. Russians were afraid the foreigners would buy all their assets for a song, using favourable exchange rates and lack of native capital, as had happened in the Baltic states and other ex-Communist East European countries. In order to avoid that, shares of Russian blue-chip companies (Gazprom and suchlike) were traded among Russian citizens only. Foreigners had to pay much more. Browder bought many such shares via Russian frontmen, and he was close to getting control over Russian oil and gas. Putin suspected that he had acted in the interests of big foreign oil companies, trying to repeat the feat of Mr Khodorkovsky.

His second mistake was being too greedy. Russian taxation is very low; but Browder did not want to pay even this low tax. He hired Mr Magnitsky, an experienced auditor, who used loopholes in the Russian tax code in order to avoid taxes altogether. Magnitsky established dummy companies based in tax-free zones of Russia, such as pastoral Kalmykia, small, Buddhist, and autonomous. Their tax-free status had been granted in order to improve their economy and reduce unemployment; however, Browder’s companies did not contribute to economy and did not employ people; they were paper dummies swiftly bankrupted by the owner.

Another Magnitsky trick was to form companies fronted by handicapped people who were also freed from paying tax. In the film, some of these persons, often illiterate and of limited intelligence, told the filmmaker of signing papers they could not read and of being paid a little money for the millions passing through their account.

(Mr Browder does not deny these accusations; he says there is nothing criminal in trying to avoid taxes. You can read about Browder and Magnitsky tricks here and here, and learn of the ways they attacked companies using minority shareholders and many other neat schemes.)

Eventually Magnitsky’s schemes were discovered and he was arrested. Ten months later, in 2009, he died in jail. By that time, his patron Mr Browder was abroad, and he began his campaign against Russia hoping to regain his lost assets. He claimed Mr Magnitsky had been his lawyer, who discovered misdeeds and the outright thievery of government officials, and was imprisoned and tortured to death for this discovery.

The US Congress rushed in the Magnitsky Act, the first salvo of the Cold War Two. By this act, any Russian person could be found responsible for Mr Magnitsky’s untimely death and for misappropriation of Browder’s assets. His properties could be seized, bank accounts frozen – without any legal process or representation. This act upset the Russians, who allegedly had kept a cool $500 billion in the Western banks, so tit for tat started, and it goes to this very day.

The actual effect of the Magnitsky Act was minimal: some twenty million dollars frozen and a few dozen not-very-important people were barred from visiting the US. Its psychological effect was much greater: the Russian elite realised that they could lose their money and houses anytime – not in godless Putin’s Russia, but in the free West, where they had preferred to look for refuge. The Magnitsky Act paved the road to the Cyprus confiscation of Russian deposits, to post-Crimean sanctions and to a full-fledged Cold War.

This was painful for Russia, as the first adolescent disillusionment in its love affair with the West, and rather healthy, in my view. A spot of cold war (very cold, plenty of ice please) is good for ordinary people, while its opposite, a Russian-American alliance, is good for the elites. The worst times for ordinary Russian people were 1988-2001, when Russians were in love with the US. The oligarchs stole everything there was to steal and sold it to the West for pennies. They bought villas in Florida while Russia fell apart. That was bad time for everybody: the US invaded Panama and Afghanistan unopposed, Iraq was sanctioned to death, Yugoslavia was bombed and broken to pieces.

As the Cold War came back, some normalcy was restored: the Russians stopped the US from destroying Syria, and Russian officials learned to love Sochi instead of Miami. For this reason alone, Browder can be counted as a part of the power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good. The Russian government, however, did not enjoy the cold shower.

The Russians denied any wrongdoing or even political reasons for dealing with Browder. They say Magnitsky was not a lawyer, just an auditor and a tax code expert. They say that he was arrested and tried for his tax avoidance schemes, and he died of natural causes while in jail. Nobody listened to them, until they demanded that Browder testify under oath. He refused. For two years lawyers tried to give him a summons, but he was a quick runner. There are funny videos showing Browder running away from summons.

Some good sense began to seep into American minds. The New Republic wondered: if Browder was indeed the victim of persecution in Russia and had enlisted the U.S. justice system to right the balance, why was he so reluctant to offer his sworn testimony in an American courtroom?

Enter Mr Andrey Nekrasov, a Russian dissident filmmaker. He made a few films considered to be highly critical of Russian government. He alleged the FSB blew up houses in Moscow in order to justify the Chechnya war. He condemned the Russian war against Georgia in 2008, and had been given a medal by Georgian authorities. He did not doubt the official Western version of Browder-Magnitsky affair, and decided to make a film about the noble American businessman and the brave Russian lawyer fighting for human rights. The European organisations and parliamentarians provided the budget for the film. They also expected the film to denounce Putin and glorify Magnitsky, the martyr.

However, while making the film, Mr Nekrasov had his Road to Damascus moment. He realised that the whole narrative was hinging on the unsubstantiated words of Mr Browder. After painstaking research, he came to some totally different conclusions, and in his version, Browder was a cheat who run afoul of law, while Magnitsky was his sidekick in those crimes.

Nekrasov discovered an interview Magnitsky gave in his jail. In this interview, the accountant said he was afraid Browder would kill him to prevent him from denouncing Browder, and would make him his scapegoat. It turned out Browder tried to bribe the journalist who made the interview to have these words expunged. Browder was the main beneficiary of the accountant’s death, realised Nekrasov, while his investigators were satisfied with Magnitsky’s collaboration with them.

Nekrasov could not find any evidence that Magnitsky tried to investigate the misdeeds of government officials. He was too busy covering his own tax evasion. And instead of fitting his preconceived notions, Nekrasov made the film about what he learned. (Here are some details of Nekrasov’s film)

While the screening in the EU Parliament was been stopped by the powerful Mr Browder, in Washington DC the men are made of sterner stuff. Despite Browder’s threats the film was screened, presented by the best contemporary American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who is 80 if a day, and still going strong. One has to recognise that the US is second to none for freedom of speech on the globe.

What makes Browder so powerful? He invests in politicians. This is probably a uniquely Jewish quality: Jews outspend everybody in contributions to political figures. The Arabs will spend more on horses and jets, the Russians prefer real estate, the Jews like politicians. The Russian NTV channel reported that Browder lavishly financed the US lawmakers. Here they present alleged evidence of money transfers: some hundred thousand dollars was given by Browder’s structures officially to the senators and congressmen in order to promote the Magnitsky Act.

Much bigger sums were transferred via good services of Brothers Ziff, mega-rich Jewish American businessmen, said the researchers in two articles published on the Veteran News Network and in The Huffington Post.

These two articles were taken off the sites very fast under pressure of Browder’s lawyers, but they are available in the cache. They disclose the chief beneficiary of Browder’s generosity. This is Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. He was the engine behind Magnitsky Act legislation to such an extent that the Act has been often called the Cardin List. Cardin is a fervent supporter of Hillary Clinton, also a cold warrior of good standing. More to a point, Cardin is a prominent member of Israel Lobby.

Browder affair is a heady upper-class Jewish cocktail of money, spies, politicians and international crime. Almost all involved figures appear to be Jewish, not only Browder, Brothers Ziff and Ben Cardin. Even his enemy, the beneficiary of the scam that (according to Browder) took over his Russian assets is another Jewish businessman Dennis Katsiv (he had been partly exonerated by a New York court as is well described in this thoughtful piece).

Browder began his way to riches under the patronage of a very rich and very crooked Robert Maxwell, a Czech-born Jewish businessman who assumed a Scots name. Maxwell stole a few million dollars from his company pension fund before dying in mysterious circumstances on board of his yacht in the Atlantic. It was claimed by a member of Israeli Military Intelligence, Ari Ben Menashe, that Maxwell had been a Mossad agent for years, and he also said Maxwell tipped the Israelis about Israeli whistle-blower Mordecai Vanunu. Vanunu was kidnapped and spent many years in Israeli jails.

Geoffrey Goodman wrote Maxwell “was almost certainly being used as – and using himself as – a two-way intelligence conduit [between East and West]. This arrangement included passing intelligence to the Israeli secret forces with whom he became increasingly involved towards the end of his life.”

After Maxwell, Browder switched allegiance to Edmond Safra, a very rich Jewish banker of Lebanese origin, who also played East vs West. Safra provided him with working capital for his investment fund. Safra’s bank has been the unlikely place where the IMF loan of four billion dollars to Russia had been transferred—and disappeared. The Russian authorities say that Browder has been involved in this “crime of the century,” next to Safra. The banker’s name has been connected to Mossad: increasingly fearful for his life, Safra surrounded himself by Mossad-trained gunmen. This did not help him: he died a horrible death in his bathroom when his villa was torched by one of the guards.

The third Jewish oligarch on Browder’s way was Boris Berezovsky, the king-maker of Yeltsin’s Russia. He also died in his bathroom (which seems to be a constant feature); apparently he committed suicide. Berezovsky had been a politically active man; he supported every anti-Putin force in Russia. However, a few months before his death, he asked for permission to return to Russia, and some negotiations went on between him and Russian authorities.

His chief of security Sergey Sokolov came to Russia and purportedly brought with him some documents his late master prepared for his return. These documents allege that Browder had been an agent of Western intelligence services, of the CIA to begin with, and of MI6 in following years. He was given a code name Solomon, as he worked for Salomon Brothers. His financial activity was just a cover for his true intentions, that is to collect political and economic data on Russia, and to carry out economic war on Russia. This revelation has been made in the Russia-1 TV channel documentary Browder Effect, (broadcasted 13.04.2016), asserting that Browder was not after money at all, and his activities in Russia, beside being very profitable, had a political angle.

The documents had been doubted for some linguistic reasons discussed by Gilbert Doctorow who comes to a reasonable conclusion: “Bill Browder[‘s]… intensity and the time he was devoting to anti-Russian sanctions in Europe was in no way comparable to the behaviour of a top level international businessman. It was clear to me that some other game was in play. But at the time, no one could stand up and suggest the man was a fraud, an operative of the intelligence agencies. Whatever the final verdict may be on the documents presented by the film “The Browder Effect,” it raises questions about Browder that should have been asked years ago in mainstream Western media if journalists were paying attention. Yevgeny Popov deserves credit for highlighting those questions, even if his documents demand further investigation before we come to definitive answers”.

We do not know whether Browder is, or had been, a spy. This should not surprise us, as he was closely connected to Maxwell, Safra and Berezovsky, the financiers with strong ties in the intelligence community.

Perhaps he outlived his usefulness, Mr Browder did. He started the Cold war, now is the time to keep it in its healthy limits and to avoid a nuclear disaster or rapid armaments race. This is the task we may hope will be entertained by the next US President, Mr Donald Trump.

View the Nekrasov film while you can:

The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes

July 31, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Film Review, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

UK to Roll Out Its Version of Magnitsky Act Amid Ex-Russian Spy’s Case – Reports

Sputnik – 11.03.2018

The United Kingdom is going to introduce its version of the Magnitsky Act targeting Russian nationals, including officials who are accused of violating human rights and of corruption, the Telegraph newspaper reported Sunday.

According to the media, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd have already agreed that the United Kingdom will impose sanctions similar to the Magnitsky Act.

The move comes amid the incident around former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter who were exposed to a nerve agent on Monday. Western media accused Moscow of orchestrating the assassination of the ex-spy.

The United States adopted the so-called Magnitsky Act, which imposes travel bans and financial sanctions on Russian officials and other individuals believed to have been involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, in late 2012. The Hermitage Capital Management hedge fund lawyer was arrested in Moscow in 2008 on charges of tax evasion and later died of heart failure while in prison.

In December 2016, then-US President Barack Obama signed into law the Global Magnitsky Act, which expands the Russia-specific sanctions to other countries.

READ MORE: 

UK Cabinet Committee to Hold Emergency Meeting on Russian Ex-Spy Poisoning

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Economics, False Flag Terrorism | , , | Leave a comment

Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act, and Russophobia: Interview with Alex Krainer

Sott Media | November 27, 2017

Interview with Alex Krainer, hedge fund manager and author of The Killing of William Browder: Deconstructing Bill Browder’s Dangerous Deception.

Bill Browder is the man responsible for much of the anti-Russian sentiment in the West in recent years through his lobbying for the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions individuals believed to have been involved in the death of Russian “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky in 2009.

Browder told his story in a book called Red Notice, in which he paints himself as a totally innocent victim of a Russian campaign to destroy him. But Krainer dissects Browder’s account piece by piece, showing that he was anything but an innocent businessman.

In addition to deconstructing Browder’s self-serving lies and rampant Russophobia, Krainer gives a concise history of the crisis Russia went through in the 90s, how a handful of Russian oligarchs and Westerners like Browder siphoned the country’s wealth, and how Putin turned all that around in the years after he came to power in 1999.

Due to pressure from Browder’s legal team, Amazon censored the book by delisting it. Krainer has made it available for free here and here.

Krainer maintains a blog at thenakedhedgie.com

Running Time: 01:32:11

Download: OGG, MP3

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Corrupt Billionaire Who Has Brought About a New Cold War

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 01.02.2018

One has to ask why there is a crisis in US-Russia relations since Washington and Moscow have much more in common than not, to include confronting international terrorism, stabilizing Syria and other parts of the world that are in turmoil, and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In spite of all that, the US and Russia are currently locked in a tit-for-tat unfriendly relationship somewhat reminiscent of the Cold War.

Apart from search for a scapegoat to explain the Hillary Clinton defeat, how did it happen? Israel Shamir, a keen observer of the American-Russian relationship, and celebrated American journalist Robert Parry both think that one man deserves much of the credit for the new Cold War and that man is William Browder, a hedge fund operator who made his fortune in the corrupt 1990s world of Russian commodities trading.

Browder is also symptomatic of why the United States government is so poorly informed about international developments as he is the source of much of the Congressional “expert testimony” contributing to the current impasse. He has somehow emerged as a trusted source in spite of the fact that he has self-interest in cultivating a certain outcome. Also ignored is his renunciation of American citizenship in 1998, reportedly to avoid taxes. He is now a British citizen.

Browder is notoriously the man behind the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which exploited Congressional willingness to demonize Russia and has done so much to poison relations between Washington and Moscow. The Act sanctioned individual Russian officials, which Moscow has rightly seen as unwarranted interference in the operation of its judicial system.

Browder, a media favorite who self-promotes as “Putin’s enemy #1,” portrays himself as a selfless human rights advocate, but is he? He has used his fortune to threaten lawsuits for anyone who challenges his version of events, effectively silencing many critics. He claims that his accountant Sergei Magnitsky was a crusading “lawyer” who discovered a $230 million tax-fraud scheme that involved the Browder business interest Hermitage Capital but was, in fact, engineered by corrupt Russian police officers who arrested Magnitsky and enabled his death in a Russian jail.

Many have been skeptical of the Browder narrative, suspecting that the fraud was in fact concocted by Browder and his accountant Magnitsky. A Russian court recently supported that alternative narrative, ruling in late December that Browder had deliberately bankrupted his company and engaged in tax evasion. He was sentenced to nine years prison in absentia.

William Browder is again in the news recently in connection with testimony related to Russiagate. On December 16th Senator Diane Feinstein of the Senate Judiciary Committee released the transcript of the testimony provided by Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS. According to James Carden, Browder was mentioned 50 times, but the repeated citations apparently did not merit inclusion in media coverage of the story by the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico.

Fusion GPS, which was involved in the research producing the Steele Dossier used to discredit Donald Trump, was also retained to provide investigative services relating to a lawsuit in New York City involving a Russian company called Prevezon. As information provided by Browder was the basis of the lawsuit, his company and business practices while in Russia became part of the investigation. Simmons maintained that Browder proved to be somewhat evasive and his accounts of his activities were inconsistent. He claimed never to visit the United States and not own property or do business there, all of which were untrue, to include his ownership through a shell company of a $10 million house in Aspen Colorado. He repeatedly ran away, literally, from attempts to subpoena him so he would have to testify under oath.

Per Simmons, in Russia, Browder used shell companies locally and also worldwide to avoid taxes and conceal ownership, suggesting that he was likely one of many corrupt businessmen operating in what was a wild west business environment. My question is, “Why was such a man granted credibility and allowed a free run to poison the vitally important US-Russia relationship?” The answer might be follow the money. Israel Shamir reports that Browder was a major contributor to Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, who was the major force behind the Magnitsky Act.

February 1, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Canada passes US-style sanctions bill targeting ‘corrupt’ Russian officials

RT | October 18, 2017

The Canadian Senate has passed Bill S-226, known as the Sergei Magnitsky Law, mirroring similar US legislation. Moscow has repeatedly slammed the bill as a violation of international law and vowed to respond.

Although the bill, titled “Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law),” envisions imposing sanctions on any foreign national, not only on Russians, it mentions exclusively the high-profile cases linked to Russia in its preamble.

Among them is the death of Sergei Magnitsky in a pre-trial detention facility in 2009. Magnitsky was a tax accountant employed by the US-British investor Bill Browder, who was accused by the Russian authorities of orchestrating large-scale tax evasion and embezzling hundreds of millions of rubles from the Russian budget. The lawyer was a prime suspect in the investigation. Browder, however, insisted that Magnitsky fell victim to persecution and torture by the Russian penitentiary system after he allegedly uncovered corruption crimes by Russian tax officials. As result of a three-year lobbying campaign, spearheaded by Browder, in 2012 the US Senate approved the so-called Magnitsky Act, allowing the US to freeze the assets of, and bar entry to, Russians accused of human rights violations. The bill has soured relations between Washington and Moscow.

The other cases listed in the Canadian bill’s preamble refer to the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 In London, which was blamed by British investigators on Russian secret services, the assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow in 2015 and the detention of former Ukrainian pilot turned MP, Nadezhda Savchenko, who was tried in a Russian court and found guilty of murdering Russian journalists in Eastern Ukraine. She was subsequently freed in a prisoner swap for two Russian nationals jailed by Kiev.

A foreign national is subject to the restrictions under the Canadian version of the Magnitsky Law if he or she is found to be complicit in torture or other human right violations against “individuals in any foreign country” who wants to shed light on the illegal activity by the government or to “obtain, exercise, defend or promote” human rights. The bill also targets foreign nationals involved in corruption.

Speaking on the bill after it was unanimously approved by the Canadian House of Commons in early October, Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the legislation was designed to enable Canadian authorities to impose sanctions and travel bans on foreigners found to be complicit in these offenses.

The bill’s final reading was passed by the Senate on Tuesday. To become law, it now requires royal assent to be given by Canada’s Governor General, which is usually a mere formality.

The legislation’s apparent focus on the alleged misdeeds by Russian officials was slammed by Moscow as aggression that would not be left unanswered.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova described the bill as a copy of the “odious American Magnitsky Act,” saying that it will deal a blow to already strained Russia-Canada relations.

“We warn again that in case the pressure of the sanctions put on us increases … we will widen likewise the list of Canadian officials banned from entering Russia,” Zakharova said in early October.

Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of the Upper House Committee for International Relations, dubbed the bill “yet another confirmation of the existence of the dangerous tendency when national legislation is applied to international relations.” The lawmaker argued that neither Canada, nor any other single country, has the right to play the role of a “global ombudsman.”

“Who has empowered Canada with the right to do such things in the international arena, to decide who is corrupt in other nations and who is not, to apply repressive measures to foreign citizens?” he said.

The spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, Kirill Kalinin, said that while the bill is  “disguised as a pro-human rights and anti-corruption measure” it goes against Canada’s national interests, as it will alienate “one of the key world powers,” in times when diplomacy is of crucial importance.

“Unfortunately, we are witnessing the continuation of failed policies, pressed by Russophobic elements,” he said in a statement, noting that Russia would respond “with resolve and reciprocal countermeasures.”

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

The Magnitsky Hoax?

Who stole all the money?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • June 28, 2016

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer hired by an Anglo-American investment fund operating in Moscow to investigate the apparent diversion of as much as $230 million in taxes due to the government. He became a whistleblower after discovering that the money had been stolen by the police, organized crime figures and other government officials. After he went to the authorities to complain he was unjustly imprisoned for eleven months. When he refused to recant he was both beaten and denied medical treatment to coerce him into cooperating, resulting in his death in jail at age 37 in November 2009. He has become something of a hero for those who have decried official corruption in Russia.

The Magnitsky case is of particular importance because both the European Union and the United States have initiated sanctions against the Russian officials who were allegedly involved. In the Magnitsky Act, sponsored by Russia-phobic Senator Ben Cardin and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, the U.S. asserted its willingness to punish foreign governments for violations of human rights. Russia reacted angrily, noting that the actions taken by its government internally, notably the operation of its judiciary, were being subjected to outside interference. It reciprocated with sanctions against U.S. officials as well as by increasing pressure on foreign non-governmental pro-democracy groups operating in Russia. Tension between Moscow and Washington increased considerably as a result and Congress will likely soon approve a so-called Global Magnitsky Act as part of the current defense appropriation bill. It expands the use of sanctions and other punitive measures against regimes guilty of egregious human rights abuses though it is unlikely to be applied to U.S. friends like Saudi Arabia and Israel. It is also sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin and is clearly intended to intimidate Russia.

The tit-for-tat that has severely damaged relations with Russia is based on the standard narrative embraced by many regarding who Magnitsky was and what he did, but is it true? I had the privilege of attending the first by invitation only screening of a documentary “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” produced by Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov. The documentary had been blocked in Europe through lawsuits filed by some of the parties linked to the prevailing narrative but the Newseum in Washington eventually proved willing to permit rental of a viewing room in spite of threats coming from the same individuals to sue to stop the showing.

Nekrasov by his own account had intended to do a documentary honoring Magnitsky and his employers as champions for human rights within an increasing fragile Russian democracy. He had previously produced documentaries highly critical of Russian actions in Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine, and also regarding the assassinations of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London as well as of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow. He has been critical of Vladimir Putin personally and was not regarded as someone who was friendly to the regime, quite the contrary. Some of his work has been banned in Russia.

After his documentary was completed using actors to play the various real-life personalities involved and was being edited Nekrasov returned to some issues that had come up during the interviews made during the filming. The documentary records how he sought clarification of what he was reading and hearing but one question inevitably led to another.

The documentary began with the full participation of American born UK citizen William Browder, who virtually served as narrator for the first section that portrayed the widely accepted story on Magnitsky. Browder portrays himself as a human rights campaigner dedicated to promoting the legacy of Sergei Magnitsky, but he is inevitably much more complicated than that. The grandson of Earl Browder the former General Secretary of the American Communist Party, William Browder studied economics at the University of Chicago, and obtained an MBA from Stanford.

From the beginning, Browder concentrated on Eastern Europe, which was beginning to open up to the west. In 1989 he took a position at highly respected Boston Consulting Group dealing with reviving failing Polish socialist enterprises. He then worked as an Eastern Europe analyst for Robert Maxwell, the unsavory British press magnate and Mossad spy, before joining the Russia team at Wall Street’s Salomon Brothers in 1992.

He left Salomons in 1996 and partnered with the controversial Edmond Safra, the Lebanese-Brazilian-Jewish banker who died in a mysterious fire in 1999, to set up Hermitage Capital Management Fund. Hermitage is registered in tax havens Guernsey and the Cayman Islands. It is a hedge fund that was focused on “investing” in Russia, taking advantage initially of the loans-for-shares scheme under Boris Yeltsin, and then continuing to profit greatly during the early years of Vladimir Putin’s ascendancy. By 2005 Hermitage was the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Browder had renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1997 and became a British citizen apparently to avoid American taxes, which are levied on worldwide income. In his book Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Fight for Justice he depicts himself as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to function in a corrupt Russian business world. That may or may not be true, but the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in making false representations on official documents and bribery.

As a consequence of what came to be known as the Magnitsky scandal, Browder was eventually charged by the Russian authorities for fraud and tax evasion. He was banned from re-entering Russia in 2005, even before Magnitsky died, and began to withdraw his assets from the country. Three companies controlled by Hermitage were eventually seized by the authorities, though it is not clear if any assets remained in Russia. Browder himself was convicted of tax evasion in absentia in 2013 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Browder has assiduously, and mostly successfully, made his case that he and Magnitsky have been the victims of Russian corruption both during and since that time, though there have been skeptics regarding many details of his personal narrative. He has been able to sell his tale to leading American politicians like Senators John McCain, Ben Cardin and ex-Senator Joe Lieberman, always receptive when criticizing Russia, as well as to a number of European parliamentarians and media outlets. But there is, inevitably, another side to the story, something quite different, which Andrei Nekrasov presents to the viewer.

Nekrasov has discovered what he believes to be holes in the narrative that has been carefully constructed and nurtured by Browder. He provides documents and also an interview with Magnitsky’s mother maintaining that there is no clear evidence that he was beaten or tortured and that he died instead due to the failure to provide him with medicine while in prison or treatment shortly after he had a heart attack. A subsequent investigation ordered by then Russian President Dimitri Medvedev in 2011 confirmed that Magnitsky had not received medical treatment, contributing to this death, but could not confirm that he had been beaten even though there was suspicion that that might have been the case.

Nekrasov also claims that much of the case against the Russian authorities is derived from English language translations of relevant documents provided by Browder himself. The actual documents sometimes say something quite different. Magnitsky is referred to as an accountant, not a lawyer, which would make sense as a document of his deposition is apparently part of a criminal investigation of possible tax fraud, meaning that he was no whistleblower and was instead a suspected criminal.

Other discrepancies cited by Nekrasov include documents demonstrating that Magnitsky did not file any complaint about police and other government officials who were subsequently cited by Browder as participants in the plot, that the documents allegedly stolen from Magnitsky to enable the plotters to transfer possession of three Hermitage controlled companies were irrelevant to how the companies eventually were transferred and that someone else employed by Hermitage other than Magnitsky actually initiated investigation of the fraud.

In conclusion, Nekrasov believes there was indeed a huge fraud related to Russian taxes but that it was not carried out by corrupt officials. Instead, it was deliberately ordered and engineered by Browder with Magnitsky, the accountant, personally developing and implementing the scheme used to carry out the deception.

To be sure, Browder and his international legal team have presented documents in the case that contradict much of what Nekrasov has presented in his film. But in my experience as an intelligence officer I have learned that documents are easily forged, altered, or destroyed so considerable care must be exercised in discovering the provenance and authenticity of the evidence being provided. It is not clear that that has been the case. It might be that Browder and Magnitsky have been the victims of a corrupt and venal state, but it just might be the other way around. In my experience perceived wisdom on any given subject usually turns out to be incorrect.

Given the adversarial positions staked out, either Browder or Nekrasov is essentially right, though one should not rule out a combination of greater or lesser malfeasance coming from both sides. But certainly Browder should be confronted more intensively on the nature of his business activities while in Russia and not given a free pass because he is saying things about Russia and Putin that fit neatly into a Washington establishment profile. As soon as folks named McCain, Cardin and Lieberman jump on a cause it should be time to step back a bit and reflect on what the consequences of proposed action might be.

One should ask why anyone who has a great deal to gain by having a certain narrative accepted should be completely and unquestionably trusted, the venerable Cui bono? standard. And then there is a certain evasiveness on the part of Browder. The film shows him huffing and puffing to explain himself at times and he has avoided being served with subpoenas on allegations connected to the Magnitsky fraud that are making their way through American courts. In one case he can be seen on YouTube running away from a server, somewhat unusual behavior if he has nothing to hide.

A number of Congressmen and staffers were invited to the showing of the Nekrasov documentary at the Newseum but it is not clear if any of them actually bothered to attend, demonstrating once again how America’s legislature operates inside a bubble of willful ignorance of its own making. Nor was the event reported in the local “newspaper of record” the Washington Post, which has been consistently hostile to Russia on its editorial and news pages.

A serious effort that a friend of mine described as “hell breaking loose” was also made to disrupt the question and answer session that followed the viewing of the film, with a handful of clearly coordinated hecklers interrupting and making it impossible for others to speak. The organized intruders, who may have gained entry using invitations that were sent to congressmen, suggested that someone at least considers this game being played out to have very high stakes.

The point is that neither Nekrasov nor Browder should be taken at their word. Either or both might be lying and the motivation to make mischief is very high if even a portion of the stolen $230 million is still floating around and available. And by the same measure, no Congressman or even the President should trust the established narrative, particularly if they persist in their hypocritical conceit that global human rights are best judged from Washington. They should in particular hesitate if they are considering tying policy towards Russia based on a presumption of guilt on the part of Moscow without really knowing what actually did occur. That could well be a decision that will bring with it tragic consequences.

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Film Review, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

WPost’s ‘Agit-Prop’ for the New Cold War

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 21, 2016

A danger in today’s Western journalism is that the people in charge of the mainstream media are either neocon ideologues or craven careerists who will accept any official attack on geopolitical “enemies” without checking out the facts, such as with the Iraq War’s WMD myth or the curious case of Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky’s 2009 death in a Russian jail became a Western cause célèbre with the accountant for hedge-fund executive William Browder hailed as a martyr in the cause of whistleblowing against a profoundly corrupt Russian government. After Magnitsky’s death from a heart attack, Browder claimed his “lawyer” had been tortured and murdered to cover up official complicity in a $230 million tax-fraud scheme involving companies ostensibly under Browder’s control.

Because of Browder’s wealth and political influence, he succeeded in getting the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress to buy into his narrative and move to punish the presumed villains in the tax fraud and in Magnitsky’s death. The U.S.-enacted Magnitsky Act in 2012 was an opening salvo in what has become a new Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

The Magnitsky narrative has now become so engrained in Western geopolitical mythology that the storyline apparently can no longer be questioned or challenged, which brings us to the current controversy about a new documentary that turns the case upside-down and again reveals the superficiality, bias and hypocrisy of the West’s politicians and news media.

The West’s reaction has been to block the public airing of the documentary – to any significant audience – while simultaneously branding it Russian “agit-prop,” the attack line used by The Washington Post in a Monday editorial. In other words, the treatment of the film is reminiscent of a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person.

In this case, the Post’s editorial writers under the direction of neocon editor Fred Hiatt note the film’s showing in a rented room at Washington’s Newseum and then seek to discredit the filmmaker, Andrei Nekrasov, without addressing his avalanche of documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case.

Instead, the Post accuses Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuates that he is merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.” The Post concludes smugly:

“The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family. We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

Watching the Film

After reading the Post’s editorial, I managed to get a password for viewing the documentary, “The Magnitsky Act. Behind the Scenes,” on the Internet and I was struck by how thoroughly dishonest and “highly selective” the Post’s editors had been in their attack on the film.

For instance, the Post writes, “The film is a piece of agitprop that mixes fact and fiction to blame Magnitsky for the fraud and absolve Russians of blame for his death.” While it is correct that Nekrasov “mixes fact and fiction,” that is because the documentary is, in part, the story of his planned docu-drama which was intended to embrace and dramatize Browder’s narrative. Nekrasov begins the project as Browder’s friend and ally.

It was during the docu-drama’s production that Nekrasov begins to detect inconsistencies and contradictions in Browder’s storyline, including how a woman executive in one of Browder’s shell companies alerted police to the tax-fraud scam, not Magnitsky, and that Magnitsky as an accountant in the business was called in for questioning by police. In other words, Magnitsky comes across as a criminal suspect, not a noble whistleblower.

As the documentary proceeds, Nekrasov struggles with the dilemma as his scripted docu-drama portraying Magnitsky as a martyr falls apart. When Nekrasov’s questions become more pointed, his friendship with Browder also painfully unravels.

One of the powerful aspects of the film is that it shows Browder grow petulant and evasive as his well-received narrative begins to come undone, both in interviews with Nekrasov and in a videotaped deposition from a related civil case.

Key points of the deception are revealed not by Kremlin officials but by Magnitsky’s supporters who challenge pieces of Browder’s embroidered story, such as elevating Magnitsky from an accountant to a “lawyer.”

Another key piece of Browder’s tale – that corrupt police raided his offices to seize original corporate records and seals to set up shell companies to perpetrate the tax fraud – crumbles when Nekrasov shows Russian laws that don’t require such records and discovers that the registrations were accomplished by straw men apparently controlled by Browder and operating under powers of attorney.

Though I am no expert on the Magnitsky case – and there surely may be flaws in the documentary – what is clear is that the widely accepted version of the Magnitsky case, portraying him and his boss as noble do-gooders who become victims of a convoluted police conspiracy, is no longer tenable or at least deserves a serious reexamination.

But preventing the Western public from seeing this important film – and then demonizing it in a Washington Post editorial on the assumption that almost no one will see it – amount to the behavior of a totalitarian society where “agit-prop” does rule, except in this case it is anti-Russian agit-prop that escapes any serious scrutiny.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment