By Chet Yarbrough
Written by: Bill Browder
Narration by: Adam Grupper
If only a few of Bill Browder’s facts and accusations are true, the realpolitik of Vladimir Putin shocks the senses. “Red Notice” reflects on the diplomacy of Russian power.
In his book, “Red Notice”, Browder tells a story that implies Putin is a thug. Browder infers that Putin will lie, steal, and murder with the brutality of Joseph Stalin, the cunning of Machiavelli, and the tenacity of Genghis Kahn. Browder believes Putin uses his position as President to acquire wealth as second only to his desire for power.
Acquiring wealth is something Browder knows quite a lot about. William Browder is an investment fund manager/partner who ventures into Russia at the beginning of glasnost. Russian businesses and industries became private rather than state-owned enterprises at the end of the 20th century.
Beginning in 1996, Browder and his investors assemble a capital investment fund worth billions of dollars in 2005. Browder began the fund with other people’s money. The fund becomes known as Hermitage Capital Management. As a result of his analysis, Browder’s investment group buys Russian assets at steeply undervalued prices. He earns over two hundred million dollars per year for himself in 2006 and 2007.
BROWDER’S STORY OF HERMITAGE CAPITAL:
In 2005, Browder is deported by the Russian government. In 2006, Browder is black listed by the Russian government as a “threat to national security”. In March of 2013, the bank that serves as trustee and manager of Hermitage Capital Management announces it will cease funding operations in Russia. Browder gleefully points out in “Red Notice” that all of Hermitage Capital Management assets had been surreptitiously withdrawn in 2007. Browder is presently being sued in absentia by the Russian Government for tax evasion. Therein lays a tale of suspicious deaths, human greed, and conspiracy.
Browder assembles a great deal of evidence that suggests two people are murdered; that murder’ accomplices are paid a great deal of money, and that President Putin either sets the example for thuggish behavior or is complicit in a scheme that defrauds the Russian people.
DUTCH JOURNALISM’S INVESTIGATION OF THE RISE OF PUTIN:
The two alleged murders are Sergie Magnitsky and Alexander Perepilichnyy. Magnitsky dies in the custody of the Russian government. He is identified as an attorney in Browder’s book but research suggests he is not licensed as an attorney in Russia. Magnitsky discovers a scheme by Russian government employees to recover taxes paid by Browder’s companies in Russia. The scheme is based on charges that the companies that paid the taxes were illegally pilfered by Browder’s investment company. The companies were transferred, without Browder’s knowledge or authorization, to shell company Russian owners. These owners are found to be two officers in the Russian secret police. The new owners suggest the companies they own have been pilfered and that they should be reimbursed for taxes that were paid to the government because of Browder’s fraudulent transfer of worthless assets.
Magnitsky and two Russian lawyers present evidence to the Russian government about the fraud being perpetrated by the two Russian officers. The two Russian lawyers decide to flee their country when they believe they are going to be arrested. Magnitsky believes facts speak for themselves; that he is safe, and the government will recognize and arrest the real criminals. Magnitsky is arrested, beaten, and dies in prison. The two officers, Artem Kuznetxov, and Pavel Karpov remain free.
MAJOR KARPOV EXPOSE:
Alexander Perepilichny was a Russian business man who defected from Russia in 2009. Perepilichny dies at the front door of his residence in the UK. Magnitsky was a forensic accountant in Russia. Living in England in 2012, he contacts Browder to say he has evidence of how the Moscow tax office rebated taxes to the two government officials. Browder contacts the chief constable of Surrey in England to tell them of Perepilichny’s evidence. Browder accuses Russian officers of fraud, costing the Russian state $230 million dollars.
Three videos of the alleged fraudsters are created as evidence of the Russian officers’ fraud. The evidence relies on their life style versus the income they receive from the Russian government. In Browder’s book, this evidence is overlaid with the prosecution of Russian oligarchs by Putin with the inference that those oligarchs that do not offer money to Putin are at risk of being jailed.
SYNOPSIS OF THE MAGNITSKY CASE:
“Red Notice” is a powerful statement about one man’s view of Vladimir Putin. As noted at the beginning of this review, “if only a few of Bill Browder’s facts and accusations are true…” Putin’s reputation, if not his power and wealth, are diminished. At the same time, Browder’s ludicrously large capitalist windfall at the expense of the Russian economy, and two Russian’ deaths, does little for his reputation.