During Monday’s Trump-Putin press conference in Helsinki, Putin specifically mentioned Jewish-Brit (formerly American) vulture-investor William Browder as a criminal suspect to which Russian authorities would like access. This seemed to surprise observers and begs the question: Who is Mr. Browder?
Some would call Browder the primary reason relations are poor with Russia. Browder’s paternal grandfather was a leader of the American Communist Party but was thrown out on charges of corruption. Browder joined a flood of vulture investors looking to make a fortune from the privatization of the Russian economy following the collapse of the Soviet Union. For a time, he was among was the largest foreign investors in Russian securities.
The following are excerpts taken from “William Browder’s AVISMA (Aviation Special Materials) “ at 100reorters.org:
Documents in a little-known case suggest that Browder — stole profits. Letters, affidavits and other court documents show that Browder and his fellow investors obtained funds that were diverted via an Isle of Man shell from a Russian enterprise in which they had purchased a controlling interest.
The company, AVISMA (Aviation Special Materials), produced titanium sponge for a product used by Boeing airplanes. With his vulture capitalists partners Kenneth Dart, American billionaire and Dart cup heir, and Francis Baker, C.E.O. of the Andersen Group, a publicly-traded New York manufacturing and investment firm, Browder bought into AVISMA.
In 1999, Avisma filed a RICO lawsuit against Browder and other Avisma investors including Kenneth Dart, alleging they illegally siphoned company assets into offshore accounts and then transferred the funds to U.S. accounts at Barclays.
At the time of the American investors’ purchase, a large portion of AVISMA’s profits were being siphoned-off to the controlling stockholders through a “transfer pricing” scheme, documents in a subsequent court case show. A shell company sold raw material to AVISMA at inflated costs and purchased the finished product at below-market prices. The shell company then resold the products on the world market, collecting the difference for the majority stockholders. Browder and the other investors knew about the scheme; their lawyer in an affidavit later said it was what made the AVISMA transaction profitable.
A later lawsuit by AVISMA alleged it was “a turnkey proposition,” continuing the skimming that defrauded the nearly 40-percent shareholder minority and evaded Russian taxes on profits.
This next section provides excerpts from “Fighting Putin Doesn’t Make You a Saint” published by the (liberal) New Republic on Dec. 31, 2015:
In a letter to Judge Griesa, the lawyers wrote that Browder acknowledged under oath he had he “personally signed income tax returns that Russian tax courts found to contain false representations.” They also said Browder did not deny claims his representatives had tried to bribe a Russian journalist who spoke with Magnitsky in prison and was told by him that bosses at Hermitage “set him up” to take the fall for Browder’s alleged tax fraud.
Although Browder has been willing to interview in the friendly press, getting him to make his case under oath has been a story in its own right. Browder gave up his U.S. citizenship in 1998
Browder’s lawyers have fought for nearly two years to keep their client from being cross-examined. For the defense, such elusive behavior raises a fair question: If Browder was indeed the victim of persecution in Russia and has enlisted the U.S. justice system to right the balance, why is he so reluctant to offer his sworn testimony in an American courtroom?
“In any media space where Browder has promulgated his story, there is no one who would ask the kind of concrete, pointed questions he would need to answer without contradicting his previous statements,” said Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer.“How can a person who does not pay taxes [in the U.S.] have this kind of influence?”
After his trouble with Russian law enforcement, Browder pursued an aggressive anti-Russian lobbying campaign. He was instrumental in pushing the 2012 Magnitsky Act through, which put sanctions on Russia.
The whole issue is controversial and, in the West, lopsided. Russian documentary filmmaker Andrey Nekrasov directed and produced “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes.” Nekrasov has made other films exposing Russian corruption and rights violations and thought this would be the same. But as he peeled back the onion, he discovered it was Browder who was the bad actor.
Update 7/22/18- film has been located on Bitchute and is a doozy.
The film’s storyline: “What started as a drama about a Russian police plot to steal a billion dollars from a U.S. financier and to murder his faithful tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, has become a real life investigation of contradicting versions of the crime. The Magnitsky Case is central for the policy of blacklisting bad guys from Putin’s Russia (‘Magnitsky List’), which was then adopted by the West in retaliation for Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Shockingly for the film’s director, dissident and Putin basher Andrei Nekrasov, the official Western story turns out to have serious flaws.”
Nekrasov quickly ran into a buzz saw of censorship and suppression. We also see a continued pattern of pulling in corrupt “human rights” groups into this operation, who were used to bear down on the filmmakers.
The leader of the Norwegian party Venstre, Trine Skei Grande after meeting Browder called Nekrasov’s film propaganda. “Everyone knows that Russia is a master at conducting such campaigns”, she said. Then it turns out she has not seen the film.
In an interview Nekrasov said:
This especially affected my position. Browder has lawyers in every country. They threaten organizers of screenings and companies who financed my film. But these organizers are all western state-owned, they are not financed privately! One cannot condemn the movie as Russian propaganda! They banned showings in Belgium, threatened German channel, in Norway we could only show the movie on second attempt. In the US there was a closed screening of the movie, but Browder tried to cancel it as well. He has unlimited financial resources, I don’t have money to sue him. I have always criticized Russia for censorship and I remain a critic of the authorities now. But earlier my movies have been banned in Russia, now they are not shown in the West. This is a joke with the truth in it! The most terrifying thing is that Browder can call you a liar and a bastard who is dancing on the remains, he can destroy your reputation, insult your mother. You cannot do anything about it.
This pressure was detailed in the Russian English langauge publication South Front.
The New Nationalist has looked far and wide for “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes.” We found that if you use a Russian VPN mask (a fake Russian IP address), it can be located — but mostly in Russian. Only some parts are interviews in English. Once again, this reveals that heavy-handed censorship, often directed by powerful oligarchs, is keeping this kind of real news and documentary from western audiences.