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Putin critic Bill Browder detained by Swiss authorities

A man hiding in plain sight, William Browder has a formidable record of alleged lies and deceit, and a political influence that may be behind the biggest hoax in political history

Seraphim Hanisch

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William “Bill” Browder is an American born, naturalized British financier who has been convicted of fraud in Russia twice. He was detained in Geneva just recently while on the run from the Russian FSB. He was in Europe this week, giving news conferences about how he did business in Russia, but according to Rossiya 24 “Vesti” News, he conveniently neglected to talk about some things, like how Moscow has him under an extradition order because he swindled billions of rubles by creating fake companies and money laundering.

Many people may not be familiar with Mr. Browder, but they may recall the Magnitsky Act. This act, signed into law by President Obama in 2012, is for the purpose of punishing Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergey Magnitsky, who was himself a Russian tax accountant who got put in prison in Russia and died while incarcerated there.

At this point the accounts of Mr. Browder and the Russian Federation diverge, and since the Russian version is written in Russian, it remains not immediately accessible to English-speaking and English-reading people in the West. The Russian and English language accounts are so different that the differences demand attention from the critical thinker.

The main point of divergence centers around the unfortunate case of Sergey Magnitsky himself.

Browder’s claim

Sergey Magnitsky was assasinated in a Russian prison because he discovered that Russian tax officials were involved in fraud. While in prison he developed gallstones, pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis, and was refused medical treatment for months. After almost a year of imprisonment, he was reportedly beaten to death.

In an effort to punish the people who facilitated (Browder claims orchestrated) Magnitsky’s death, he lobbied the US Congress (as a British citizen!) to get the “Magnitsky Act” passed to punish the Russian “human rights violators” who were responsible for the death of his friend, and former colleague who had represented Browder’s Hermitage Capital Management investment fund. This act has been expanded since its inception to give the US Congress a “legal” right to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.

Russian Government claim

There is much more to the story, even before Sergey Magnitsky’s name even arises.

The Russian government and Browder began to be at odds with one another starting in 2005, when Mr. Browder was detained at Sheremetyevo-2 Airport on November 13th immediately upon his arrival, and held for fifteen hours, before being put back on a plane to London. The official reason given for his refusal of admittance into the Russian Federation was that he was considered a national security risk, and so the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs said that under Article 27 of Russian Federal law on entry and exit, Browder was no longer allowed in the Russian Federation.

In 2005, Browder decided to get involved in the ownership structure of a company named Surgutneftegaz, run by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, but which was also frozen by order of the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin. Khodorkovsky’s assets were frozen based on tax charges associated with fraud, which Khodorkovsky was charged with.  Browder didn’t want this to happen to him, so he had all his employees relocate to the UK and the Hermitage Fund sold all the shares in Russian companies or transferred them elsewhere in the summer of 2006.

In 2007, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation came to the offices of Hermitage Capital and conducted searches. The charter documents and seals of several front, or “shell” companies through which Hermitage acted in Russia were removed. This action was all carried out in the framework of a criminal investigation.

The front companies, Parfenion LLC, Mahaon LLC and Ryland LLC were found to have improperly benefitted from the illegal return of some 5.4 billion rubles of profit tax. The first people to be discovered as participants in this crime were employees of the Firestone Duncan firm. This firm is a law firm that handled the affairs of the shell companies, and of course, Hermitage Capital. One of the lawyers there was Sergey Magnitsky.

The lawyers at Firestone Duncan had themselves initiated an investigation into the theft of Russian government funds, totalling about , and the list of participants in the crime grew to some 60 employees of various Russian executive bodies, most of whom continued (and may still be continuing to serve) in various ministries and departments of the Russian Federation.

However, it was discovered that the same criminal group regularly organized such crimes, which stole significant amounts of money from the Russian budget. On November 24th, 2008, Sergey Magnitsky himself was arrested on charges of helping William Browder in tax evasion.

In other words, Magnitsky is held by Moscow to have been aiding and abetting Browder in a tax evasion scheme that defrauded 5.4 billion rubles from the Russian Federation’s operating funds and budget. In these years, the ruble was worth quite a bit more than it is now, so this was a big cash haul.

Since Browder is no longer allowed in Russia, Russia has tried to go after him. There is a standing extradition order at present, and also, as recently as October, 2017, the Russian Federation put Mr. Browder unilaterally on Interpol’s search list.

The Russian story has a lot more details still; we have only given some. Yet, Mr. Browder considers himself safe in Europe, since neither the EU nor the US will extradite him to Moscow. However, according to Vesti news, Browder refuses to acknowledge US subpoena requests just as much as he evades Russian extradition attempts.

So, what, though? So he is a dishonest businessman. Why is this important?

There is another interesting piece to this story.

Video: President Vladimir Putin discusses the Browder – Magnitsky affair at October’s Valdai conference, with Western journalists present.

On July 27, 2017, Browder testified to the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. He testified regarding the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Fusion GPS.

Sound familiar?

Browder directly discussed President Vladimir Putin, saying that he is “the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world.” This, apparently, is accomplished by Putin’s threatening Russian oligarchs and getting a 50% cut of their profits.  Browder went on to say this:

I estimate that [President Putin] has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains from these types of operations over his 17 years in power. He keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation. Therefore, he has a significant and very personal interest in finding a way to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions.

…I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests. I also hope that this story and others like it may lead to a change in the FARA enforcement regime in the future.”

So, in other words, this offers a bit of motive perhaps for why the election of Donald Trump is such a hot issue with some people. Browder has cast Vladimir Putin as a mega-oligarch, and has portrayed this situation as that of Putin trying in any way possible to take apart the Magnitsky Act, because it affects his vast wealth which is held in western banks.

However, Russia’s FSB is not without abilities to remind Mr. Browder that all is not just smooth sailing. They got the Geneva authorities to stop him and to discuss confidential matters with them a the request of the FSB. He has presently at least 22 years worth of prison time from in absentia convictions, and the more one investigates the man’s life, the more wily he is revealed to be.

This piece only scratches the surface. We plan to discuss this issue much more, because there is much more to discuss.

And to think that his words have been marching orders for the US’ propaganda and slander campaign against Russia since at least as early as 2012, and continuing through today. While Vesti has its own rather sensationalist feeling about this story, research beyond Vesti through Russian entries on Magnitsky and Browder and Yukos in Wikipedia reveal that there is a lot going on here, and that this is not likely to be the tale of an intrepid and honest businessman, but in the words of Yury Chaika, Prosecuter General of Russia:

I call him Yasha Browder. He has Moscow roots. He has a dark personality, he’s an international level criminal, a schemer.”

One wonders: where is Robert Mueller now??

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.

Watch:

Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

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Via RT


Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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