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Paul Schmehl @PaulSchmehl
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This is a thread on William Browder. To understand the context, I recommend you read this thread that I just finished on Russia: threadreaderapp.com/thread/9979028… To those who have read that thread, I suppose it won’t surprise you to hear that one of the vultures that descended on Russia
was none other than George Soros. But this thread is not about George. Its about Bill Browder. Bill Browder was born of American parents who were members of the Communist Party of the USA. In fact, his grandfather, Earl Browder ran from President on the CPUSA ticket in 1936 and
1940. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Brow… But young Bill decided he wanted to rebel, so he decided to become a capitalist. Browder began his professional career in the late 1980’s and quickly recognized an opportunity to make money in Eastern Europe. The communist bloc was collapsing
and opportunities were sprouting up all over eastern Europe. Browder ended up consulting in Poland. While there, he invested in privatization programs and quickly increased his wealth by ten-fold. He wrote this about the experience: it was “the financial equivalent of smoking
crack cocaine. Once you’ve done it, you want to repeat it over and over and over as many times as you can. ” And repeat it he would. But Browder had an aversion to paying taxes. He didn’t like seeing his profits going to the government. So, he renounced his US citizenship and
moved to London, where he would no longer have to pay capital gains taxes on his profits. His aversion to paying taxes would become an obsession that led to criminal activity in Russia. In 1991 he went to work for British billionaire Robert Maxwell as his investment manager.
The BBC called Maxwell “the biggest fraud in British history”. Once you learn more about Browder, you will wonder if rather than an investment manager, he was a student. After Maxwell died, Browder had trouble finding work (for obvious reasons) until he was hired by the scandal-
prone investment bank Salomon Brothers. There, he lobbied heavily for investing in Russia, becoming known as “the crazy fuck who won’t shut up about Russia.” Browder had gone to Russia on assignment to the Murmansk Trawler Fleet, which was being privatized under the Russian
“shock therapy” program. (This is why you need to read the previous thread first.) He discovered that the company owned 100 trawlers valued at $20 million each but was offering a half interest for $2.5 million. (Calculate the rate of return on THAT!) He stayed in Russia long
enough to learn everything he could about the privitization program and then rushed back to London to tell his superiors that they were “giving money away for free in Russia.” After being ignored and mocked, he was finally contacted by senior colleague in New York who had
apparently heard about his rantings and wanted to know more. After discussing the opportunities in Russia, Browder was dispatched there, $25 million in hand, to make money for the firm. He quickly snapped up $25 million in vouchers and began buying companies. In four months, he
increased the investment to $125 million and became an investment superstar. Remember, this is during the time of Yeltsin, when there was rampant corruption and money could be made hand over fist without a lot of drudgerous research into profit margins, cash flow and all that
other boring mathematical minutiae. Browder knew that. Salomon Brothers only knew that he was making great returns for them. He soon was making the circuit, headlining conferences on Russian investment and raving about the Russian economy. He soon left Salomon Brothers, started
his own firm and moved to Russia. He quickly turned $100 million into $1 billion, making his investors very happy. But, remember, Browder doesn’t like paying taxes. So, he began creating a network of shell companies to hide his assets. He also began investing in Gazprom
At the time, Russia required foreign investors to pay a 50% penalty when buying shares of Gazprom stock. IOW, a Russian citizen could buy the shares for 100% of face value, but foreign investors had to pay 150% of face value. Browder got around this by creating shell companies
that made it appear that they were 51% Russian-owned. And he also recognized another opportunity. He saw that Gazprom stock was undervalued because of corruption. So, he set about exposing the corruption. Once the corruption was cleaned up, the stock values would soar, and
Browder would get some more of that “crack cocaine” that he loved. Guess who was cleaning up the corruption? Putin. And Browder LOVED Putin, at least he did until HE got into trouble for tax cheating. You see, two of Browder’s shell companies were setup in a Russian province that
offered a very lucrative tax incentive. If at least 50% of the employees were handicapped, the tax rate dropped from 30% to 5%. (The province is Kalmykia if you want to research it.) So Browder “hired” enough employees to take advantage of the tax break. None of them actually
worked in his company, but that was a minor detail. At least it was until he got caught. And when he got caught, that’s when Browder’s attitude about Russia and Putin took a 180 degree turn. Browder quickly moved to get all his assets out of Russia and moved back to London.
One thing was certain. Browder was not going to be put in jail in Russia. But Browder wasn’t satisfied with cheating the Russians out of their assets during privatization or with taking advantage of the laws to make more money or with leveraging Putin’s anti-corruption
initiatives to make even more money. Now, Browder had to make Putin pay for what he had done. So, he set about creating a legend around a little known Russian accountant named Sergei Magnitsky. Sergei worked for one of Browder’s companies, but when Browder escaped from Russia,
Sergei decided to stay in the country of his birth. Eventually he was arrested for tax fraud, and while he was in prison, he died. The circumstances of his death are disputed, but Browder used them to create a furor that raged around the globe. He began lobbing the US congress to
pass a law that would punish Russia for its treatment of Sergei. He created Youtube videos to tell his story. He went on speaking tours. His story was always the same, except when he was under oath. According to Browder, Sergei was asked to research some problems with one of
Browder’s companies. Sergei was a fine young tax lawyer (according to Browder) and he quickly discovered a massive case of fraud. It seems that some Russian officials had raided Browder’s Moscow office and confiscated documents. (Likely true since they were investigating his tax
fraud.) Once they had the documents in hand, they used them to transfer ownership of some of his companies to certain criminals and corrupt officials. Then they cooked the books to show tremendous losses and requested a $230 million dollar tax refund from the Russian government.
Hardly any of this was true. Sergei was an accountant, not a tax lawyer, as confirmed by his own family. sott.net/article/373799… According to Browder, eight prison guards, dressed in riot gear, beat Sergei with rubber truncheons until he died. (HIs autopsy disproved this.)
According to Browder, Sergei was a valiant fighter for truth and justice who was abused and killed by a corrupt system that wanted to hide the truth. Browder testified to this before Congress (but not under oath) which led directly to the Magnitsky Act.) But Browder didn’t stop
He successfully lobbied Estonia, Canada and the EU to pass similar laws. These laws place sanctions on all the individuals involved in Magnitsky’s case and death. Those individuals are not allowed to travel to the US or use the US banking system. The purpose is to punish the
supposed wrongdoers. But the entire premise of these laws is based on a fabric of lies. Here’s the Russian legal document proving Browder’s tax fraud. c4.100r.org/media/2017/10/… He’s been sentenced in absentia, but he’ll never serve a day, because the west sees him as a hero.
Because that’s exactly how Browder portrayed himself. Browder has used lawyers to fight everything Russia has tried to do to bring him to justice. And the west has cheered him on. When Alex Krainer wrote his book on Browder, Browder threatened to sue Amazon unless they
removed it from sale. That’s why you can only find it available online, for free. dxczjjuegupb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/upl… Browder even managed to get US attorneys in New York to open a case against another company charging them with illegally using the supposedly stolen Russian tax money to buy
American real estate. That case was recently settled without the company admitting any wrongdoing, a sign that the case wasn’t strong enough to take to trial. (Companies often weigh the cost of going to trial against the cost of a settlement not admitting to any wrongdoing.)
The wreckage Browder has left in his wake includes the current negative view of Russia and particularly of Putin, that affects our relationship with that country. You can google Magnitsky and quickly find that with very few exceptions, the media version closely matches Browder’s
fairy tale. Very few have bothered to even fact check whether or not Magnitsky was actually licensed to practice law in Russia. (He was not.) So, by the time the 2016 election came along, Russia had become the bad guy, and tying Trump to them was the perfect ruse.
All of this brings us back to the beginning of this saga; Natalia Veselnitskaya’s involvement with Trump in the infamous Trump Tower meeting. She was there, representing her client, in the desperate hope that somebody, ANYBODY, would listen to the truth about Browder. That was
her only purpose. She knew nothing about supposed Russian offers of emails. She was hoping that Trump Jr. would listen to her story and perhaps get Congress to reconsider the Magnitsky act. Perhaps some day, someone will.
Now some cleanup. This is Browder’s sworn deposition in the Prevezon case in 2015: c1.100r.org/media/2017/10/… If you compare his sworn testimony to his unsworn claims, you’ll see immediately his evasion and lies. He can’t even admit that Magnitsky was never convicted posthumously,
a claim he has made repeatedly in public. Make no mistake about Browder. He is clearly intelligent and has a knack for recognizing moneymaking opportunities. But there is a dark side that seeks to cheat and steal without compunction. And, if he can destroy an enemy’s reputation,
as he has Putin’s, he will not hesitate to strike with energy and persistence until his foe is vanquished. He styles himself Putin’s number one enemy. I have no doubt that he is, now. But, when he was convicted of tax fraud in Russia, Putin, when questioned, didn’t even know
who he was. That should tell you something about the veracity of Browder’s claims. Whether the damage he’s done to Russia will ever be repaired is an open question.
You can watch a lengthy interview of Alex Krainer here: sott.net/article/369151…
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