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Episode 33
Featuring Bill Browder
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bill Browder, once the largest foreign investor in Russia, about the murder of his lawyer and the dismantling of his investment fund. This is a discussion about the history of post-Soviet Russia: how the country's wealth was plundered by the oligarchs and re-centralized in the hands of Vladimir Putin.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bill Browder. Bill is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was deported from the country and his $4.5bn in assets liquidated. Since 2009, when his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered in prison after uncovering a $230 million fraud committed by Russian government officials, Bill Browder has been leading a campaign to expose Russia’s endemic corruption and human rights abuses. Before founding Hermitage, Browder was vice president at Salomon Brothers.

 

Today's story begins with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is a story about the plundering of Russian industries and resources by the oligarchs and the consolidation of power in the hands of Vladimir Putin. How did the promises of reform and the opening of Soviet Russia by Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980's, lead so quickly to the traumatic redistribution of wealth into the hands of a tiny kleptocracy? What were the mechanisms that facilitated this plundering, and what role have ill-gotten gains played in the mechanics of post-soviet Russia? How important is corruption to the functioning of the Russian state? How would a curtailing of bribery, fraud, and murder represent an existential threat to the current regime? Finally, what does the personal story of Bill Browder - a story of high finance, corruption, and murder - portend for the future of this powerful nation?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Play
Episode 17
Featuring Robert Johnson
Episode 17
Featuring Robert Johnson

Bill Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was the investment adviser to the largest foreign investment fund in Russia until 2005, when Bill was denied entry to the country and declared a “threat to national security” as a result of his battle against corporate corruption.

Following his expulsion, the Russian authorities raided his offices, seized Hermitage Fund’s investment companies and used them to steal $230 million of taxes that the companies had previously paid. When Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, investigated the crime, he was arrested by the same officers he implicated, tortured for 358 days, and killed in custody at the age of 37 in November 2009.

Since then, Browder has spent the last 5 years fighting for justice for Mr. Magnitsky. The Russian government exonerated and even promoted some of the officials involved so Browder took the case to America, where his campaigning led to the US Congress adopting the ‘Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act’ in 2012, which imposed visa sanctions and asset freezes on those involved in the detention, ill-treatment and death of Sergei Magnitsky (as well as in other human rights abuses). This law was the first time the US sanctioned Russia in 35 years and became the model for all subsequent US sanctions against Russia. Browder is currently working to have similar legislation passed in Magnitsky’s name across the European Union.

 

@Billbrowder

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