Bill Browder & The Magnitsky Act: Honest Billionaire or Crooked Western Tool?
Posted: Apr 23, 2022 2:24:07 AM | Last updated: Apr 25, 2022 12:18:54 PMby Pascal-Denis Lussier
All Evidence Points to Corrupt Fraudster, not Honest Investor
- Asked and Answered for Us...
- Browder: The Anti-Corruption King of Corruption?
- The Man Who Knows Putin Best Hardly Knows Him at All
- The Bottom Line
- The Sensible Interpretation
- What is the US Magnitsky Act, and why does Putin hate it? | The Bottom Line | Al Jazeera
- Trump and Putin joint press conference in Helsinki | The Guardian
Update 25-Apr-2022: Did a proper edit while I could (I've limited Internet access at present; not fooling when I say help is needed to keep DMS&UY alive).
Asked and Answered for Us...
...and don't you dare think for yourself
The question has to be asked: How can anybody in this country, or anywhere around the world, defend or even try to explain what Putin is doing? What Putin is doing is evil. The devastation and the carnage and the stampede of human beings out of Ukraine is all caused by one man. For the better part of the last two decades, Putin has gotten away with murder again and again. Putin has poisoned more than just the opposition in Russia. Putin has poisoned our world with violence and lies. ~Jim Acosta, CNN
Because Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and too many others have never spent a single day in jail: annoyingly inconsistent, obvious Establishment shill, that's what I think of Jim Acosta, along with many, many corpo-media so-called journalists, reporters, and anchors who've been repeating something along those lines, essentially vilifying anyone that dares to question the Establishment's perspective.
Browder: The Anti-Corruption King of Corruption?
In regard to certain things, when I get that twinge, I've learned to trust my instincts; whenever I don't and start questioning them, allowing doubt to creep in and external influences to cloud my judgment, telling myself that instincts alone aren't what should be trusted and what one should count on in the absence of hard facts, well, events have shown me more times than not that I should have trusted my instincts...
Nonetheless, I still don't always do so, for I am human, after all.
Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Affair, together, represent such an instance where, no matter the full weight of all media and of all the Western governments telling us one side of that story, alarm bells have continually gone off as my instincts tell me that the version we're being told and expected to accept unquestionably as the truth is actually nothing but BS. The more I look into matters, the more evidence I unearth that seems to prove me right (or, rather, my instincts).
There's something about Bill Browder that makes me unable to trust anything he claims, not to mention that I've always seen him as nothing more than an opportunistic vulture who swept into Russia immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union in order to take advantage of a situation and of a struggling people.
Browder founded Hermitage Capital Management in Russia in 1996; his initial seed capital was $25 million.
In 1998 he relinquished his US citizenship (he was born in the US) and received naturalization as a British citizen (he currently lives in London) in 1999. Browder states that he has done so due to misgivings regarding the rule of law in the US and because his family was unfairly persecuted under McCarthyism, but there's plenty to suggest that Browder did so in order to escape financial woes with the IRS leading to, potentially, criminal charges, though this aspect remains in the realm of speculations, and will probably continue to do so given how useful his anti-Putin narrative has become to Western Establishment entities.
In 2005, Browder was barred from reentering into Russia. He claims that this was done so Putin and friends could steal his company and fund. However, filings indicate that Browder made between $160 to 190 million (USD) from the Hermitage Capital Management fund in both 2006 and 2007. The British multinational bank HSBC, which acted as trustee for the fund, announced that it would end its Russian operations relating to the fund in March of 2013.
Browder appears to have been involved in many fraudulent activities in Russia, some of which that include false claims about inexistent employees in order to take advantage of disability-related credits and grants offered by the Russian state.
VSMPO-AVISMA, a Russian-based titanium producer filed a RICO case against Browder and other investors in 1999, long before he was booted out of Russia, and while he claimed to be a big supporter of Vladimir Putin.
Much time, effort, and money have been invested toward painting Browder as a Western "hero" who stands against all of Russia to fight corruption; he's been dubbed—by Browder himself—as Putin's Number One Enemy.
The German news organization Der Spiegel did an in-depth investigation into the matter, which it published on 22-Nov-2019 (English version made available on 26-Nov-2019). Their conclusion: Browder accusations concerning the "Magnitsky Case", do not withstand thorough examination.
Browder filed a suit against the Editors in Chief of Der Spiegel as well as the German News Council. Undeterred, Der Spiegel responded by publishing all the evidence they had gathered on 17-Dec-2019, affirming their stance on the matter.
- Original German version: Vorwürfe des Investors Bill Browder: Warum der Spiegel an der Magnitski-Recherche festhält
- Published evidence: Spiegel Responds to Browder Criticisms of Magnitsky Story
Sergei Magnitsky, who was Browder's lawyer but who appears to have accountant credentials and who is listed as an auditor on all the official paperwork; he always gave Browder's Hermitage Capital Management a passing grade... bit of a conflict of interest, methinks.
There are plenty of contradictions and questionable dealings surrounding his role while under the employ of Browder.
Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 and died while in police custody in 2009; the actual cause of death isn't as clear-cut as Western powers would have us believe but, nonetheless, his death sparked international outrage though I still don't see why his was so much more relevant than the death of so many others who died due to very clear abuses while being detained by countless other governments, including all Western powers. It all seems very exploitative to me; lots of finger pointing while overlooking one's own criminal offenses and Human Rights abuses.
I must be heartless, I suppose.
I'll assume that readers are familiar with the major details; going over them here seems like a waste of time, as most of that is most probably false, is my interpretation. On this one—like too many stories—the media is no better than any run of the mill stenographer, merely repeating exactly what they've been told by government officials, or they're willing participants in pushing the Establishment-serving narrative, or they're afraid to act, knowing that they will be sued (crossed my mind as I write this), for Browder is a big bully that sicks his team of expensive lawyers on anyone that dares to negatively question his version of anything on anything.
Offering a competing, well-substantiated version regarding his and Browder's shady financial involvements isn't my focus—I would point you in the direction of the aforementioned Der Spiegel investigative work for that—as I want to bring attention, instead, to one particular aspect that's been making the rounds since 2018, and which is recently being re-broadcasted and re-plastered all over the place due to events in Ukraine and the anti-Putin feelings all are supposed to embrace.
The Act: the Gist
The Magnitsky Act, formally known as the Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, is a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2012, intending to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009 and also to grant permanent normal trade relations status to Russia.
The Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 authorizes the U.S. government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who are deemed to be human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the U.S.
It's hard to see how the US could possibly justify such an Act on moral grounds given all the individuals that have died under highly-suspicious circumstances while detained within the US.
There's also the Julian Assange issue and the Human Rights violations surrounding his case, not to mention...
And, well, there's always the elephant in the room that the US government seems to overlook: Guantanamo Bay.
With that in mind, and if applying the same logic, then the whole world should impose sanctions on the US. No one should ever buy oil or natural gas from American companies, and every country should tell the US to stick their USD and petrodollars where the sun don't shine...
The timing, the very thin proof, and how the Act is being exploited, all leads me to conclude that this is just more manipulation by the West, and just another element used to play on people's emotions, cloud judgment, and to justify a slew of actions against Russia, all of it a part of the proxy war that the US and UK had planned on waging against Russia since at least a decade ago.
But the problem must be me and my shriveled heart.
The Man Who Knows Putin Best Hardly Knows Him at All
I utterly do not understand what qualifies Bill Browder as an expert on all things Putin, and how he can possibly claim to know what's going through his mind or what his actual plans are.
He founded Hermitage Capital Management in 1996 and was booted out of Russia in 2005; I doubt he spent much time rubbing elbows with Vladimir Putin during those nine years, during which he also spent much time in the UK.
Still, he shows up on every corpo-media outlet, always presented as the man—sometimes, even, as an ex-Oligarch—that knows and understands Putin the best.
He keeps telling viewers that Putin is obsessed with him; in an interview that's available below, he states that he's "living rent free in Putin's head."
Yet, he was booted out of Russia 17 years ago, and Browder is the one that's been making the rounds, spreading anti-Putin sentiments wherever and whenever he can for the past decade, constantly pushing governments to crush Putin with any sanction they can... and who is promoting a book he just published on those long-ago events—which reads like a spy thriller, Clemons tells us—but that's not obsession.
If I see it as such, it must be because I'm emotionally deficient, I guess.
The Bottom Line
In a 21-Apr-2022 "The Bottom Line" segment titled “What is the Magnitsky Act, and why does Putin hate it?” which appeared on Al Jazeera, host Steve Clemons reinforces the accepted-and-acceptable Western narrative in regard to Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act.
US Congressman Jim McGovern also makes a brief appearance—showing up just to, somehow, give credibility to this segment and to paint Browder as a hero, which he does. Early on during his brief appearance McGovern makes the following bold claim: “The atrocities and corruption of Vladimir Putin and those around him, really, are almost unequaled anywhere in the world.”
Really? Really??? Wow! What an ignorant man. Or a propagandist?
McGovern continues, saying::
I give Browder the credit for this, because he inspired us to do something beyond just ‘isn’t this terrible’. […] This became Putin’s number one obsession; he wanted to repeal the Magnitsky Act. He appealed to Donald Trump and his advisors to get rid of it, but luckily we had people like John McCain, Roger Wicker, Ben Cardin… a bipartisan group of people in congress and the senate who said, ’You know what, we’re gonna do something here, we’re gonna do something meaningful, and we did. But this would not have happened without Bill Browder and, uh, bringing this to our attention.
Exit McGovern; Clemons continues with the flatteries, intensifies the "Browder is a selfless hero" propaganda but quickly veers towards the "Trump is a traitor and Putin lover" kind.
Cut to clip of former President Trump speaking at the joint press conference that closed off the Helsinki 2018 conference"
President Putin was incredibly strong and powerful in his denial today, and what he did was an incredible offer: he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the twelve people. I think that’s an incredible offer.
Switch back to the host, Steve Clemons, who exclaims, "Bill Browder, did the President of the United States just offer to trade you in, because of the magnetism, because of these issues, to the President of Russia?"
"As simple as that..." answers Browder.
There's much that's wrong with all so far, including the anachronism presented in the McGovern bit, but let's skip that, as that part may be due to McGovern being in awe of a god-like figure such as Bill Browder. Maybe.
Let me put it this way: If they had something more conclusive, if there were more substantial statements that matched the claims made by Browder, to which he says he reacted to in 2018, and in 2019 through to today, voicing his incredulity all over the Western press, all of which is being rehashed now to bolster anti-Putin sentiments, then I've no doubt that that's what they would be serving up. None of that is what we're getting.
From all I've listened to, not once I've I ever heard Trump state, anywhere, that he was willing to "hand over Bill Browder."
Kill two birds with one stone, I suppose, as the version that the Western press spun out of that, which Browder was all too happy to play the shocked and indignant victim to, managed to make both Trump and Putin look like conniving baddies.
The "twelve people" that Trump is referring to are those Russian officials that were booted out of the country (see below).
Here's all that Putin has said on the topic during that press conference:
Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step, we can actually permit official representatives of the United States including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can let them into the country, and they will be present to this questioning. But in this case there is another condition and this kind of effort should be a mutual one; then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate and they would question officials including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States whom we believe have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia, and we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.
For instance, we can bring up the Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over one and a half billion dollars in Russia. They never paid any taxes neither in Russia not in the United States and yet the money escaped the country. They were transferred to the United States, they sent huge amount of money, four hundred million as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Well that's the personal case; it might have been legal, the contribution itself, by the way, the money was earned was illegal, so we have a solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions, so we have an interest of questioning them. We can all. That, there could be a first step, and we can also extend it. Options abound and they all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.
The Sensible Interpretation
What I'm getting out of that is a very reasonable offer based on all the doubts and accusations that exist(ed) on both sides, which is: Americans send over official investigators to Russia to be present and assist us when we interrogate the twelve Russians accused of meddling in US elections, and we send official investigators to the US to be present and assist officials when the US interrogates those we suspect of financial crimes (including those involved with handling Browder's money, who are also linked with the Clintons).
I never once came close to having even a tinge of a sliver of a feeling of a brief impression that "handing over Americans" is what was being discussed.
But don't take my word for it, nor should you base yourself on what I cited, above, should you have any doubts. Listen for yourself; the full press conference is available below. Please explain to me how one interpreted that as "handing over Bill Browder"???
All of it: manipulative lies; pure anti-Trump and anti-Putin propaganda.
The Total BS
Some of the more shameless and scruples-lacking entities were quick to spin that into the version that Browder and Clemons and others are still pushing—though Browder likes to make it all about him since, after all, according to Browder, Browder is Putin Enemy No. 1—and added another layer, stating that Trump was ready to hand over 12 Americans.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action) is a think thank which claims to be non-partisan, but, like all such groups, they clearly are not. It's funded by liberal entities and individuals and claim to have the following aims:
- “To develop and present arguments that support adopting or maintaining important public policies consistent with the broad principles of progressivism…”
- “To educate the public about the consequences of conservative legislation and policies and the values and special interests that such measures promote.”
Who's really behind CAP and its Action Fund? According to influencewatch.org:
The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action), established in July 2003 by longtime Clinton family confidant John Podesta, liberal billionaire George Soros, and a handful of other former Washington, D.C. Democrats and Clinton administration officials, is a leading force in progressive media as the publisher of the left-wing blog ThinkProgress.
Here are the 12 officials that are clearly referred to by Trump during the press conference. And I know we're talking about the same 12 given that the Helsinki Summit is the moment that's mentioned in regard to when the topic of "handing over Americans" is claimed to have occurred in those other articles that spun the twelve into being Americans that Trump was begging Putin to take (I may be embellishing?).
Still wondering why I thought the Right was being more reasonable for a while and I sided with them on many stories when I came out of my bubble and had a good, hard look at what was happening versus what was being pushed as reality? Perhaps a lot of it has to do with the fact that I don't join tribes and that, no matter what, I never take sides other than the one that truth lies on?
What is the US Magnitsky Act, and why does Putin hate it? | The Bottom Line | Al Jazeera
The Al Jazeera segment involving Senator McGovern and Bill Browder that's mentioned above.
Trump and Putin joint press conference in Helsinki | The Guardian
The following offers the complete press conference, unedited; it cuts out at some point, but reverts to a moment that's a few seconds before the glitch. It's set to start at around the 54-minute mark, a bit before Trump and Putin make their way to their podium.