Russia
Expand
Play
Episode 33
Featuring Bill Browder
Bill Browder, once the largest foreign investor in Russia, discusses the murder of his lawyer and the dismantling of his investment fund. When he was deported, his $4.5bn in assets liquidated, and his lawyer murdered, he devoted himself to ending Russia’s endemic corruption and human rights abuses. This is the fall of Glasnost.

This is the story of Bill Browder and the end of glasnost. It stands as a microcosm of how the USSR attempted and failed, to reform itself. However, in order to truly tell the tale, we must begin with another man: Mikhail Gorbachev.


Mikhail Gorbachev came to the stage at the end of the 1980s with a policy of glasnost, which can best be translated and explained in English as “openness.” Practically speaking, the policy was focused on ending the nation’s endemic corruption by making the government transparent. Or at least, by making the government a little more transparent. Gorbachev hoped that such a policy would thwart the schemes of the bureaucrats who enjoyed complete control of the economy and redistribute power more evenly. Unlike his predecessors, Gorbachev also had a far stronger focus on noninterference.


Ultimately, these policies led to the thawing of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the decline of the role of the Communist Party in government. These are also the policies that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As a result, saying that Gorbachev changed politics in Russia would be a dramatic understatement. By the time he left office, he’d revolutionized global power dynamics.


However, the promises of openness and noninterference quickly died in the Russia state and reform was never realized. Instead, Gorbachev’s destabilization of previously entrenched power structures quickly led to the traumatic redistribution of wealth into the hands of a tiny kleptocracy.


This is where Bill Browder enters the story, and where the tale of the plundering of Russian industries and resources truly begins.


Bill Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005. That year, he was refused entry into the country and had $4.5bn in assets liquidated. The reason? According to Browder, the government was attempting to punish him for exposing corrupt practices.


Then, in 2009, his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in prison after he uncovered a $230 million fraud committed by officials in the Russian government. That is was when Bill Browder went to war.


Over the last decade, he has been leading a campaign to expose, and ultimately end Russia’s endemic corruption and excessive human rights abuses. His work led to the passage of the "Magnitsky Act" in the United States and, since that time, many countries have passed similar legislation. The work also made him an enemy of Vladimir Putin and the Russian state, which has issued several warrants and placed him on Interpol's arrest list.


Today, Bill Browder joins host Demetri Kofinas to tell his story and discuss what his tale—a story of high finance, corruption, and murder—portends for the future of this powerful nation.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter 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

Lock

Coming soon. Subscriptions with exclusive access to premium features.

FREE SAMPLE RUNDOWN

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus hendrerit. Pellentesque aliquet nibh nec urna. In nisi neque, aliquet vel, dapibus id, mattis vel, nisi. Sed pretium, ligula sollicitudin laoreet viverra, tortor libero sodales leo, eget blandit nunc tortor eu nibh. Nullam mollis. Ut justo. Suspendisse potenti.

Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Lock

Coming soon. Subscriptions with exclusive access to premium features.

FREE SAMPLE RUNDOWN

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus hendrerit. Pellentesque aliquet nibh nec urna. In nisi neque, aliquet vel, dapibus id, mattis vel, nisi. Sed pretium, ligula sollicitudin laoreet viverra, tortor libero sodales leo, eget blandit nunc tortor eu nibh. Nullam mollis. Ut justo. Suspendisse potenti.

Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.