IBased on Western relations with Vladimir Putin, Phil Prouder has played Canary’s role in the coal mine – or more appropriately Goldmine. A graduate of Stanford Business School, he was determined to make his fortune by working in London in the late 1990s.
Like his previous book, Red notice, In detail, that is what he did. With the help of Monaco-based billionaire Edmund Safra, he founded Hermitage Capital Management (one of his servants later died in a fire).
Post-Soviet state property was sold cheaply and a vicious oligarchy was formed. Business disputes were constantly resolved by bullets, and the lifespan of bankers was drastically reduced. On New Year’s Day 1999, when Putin came to power, promising to end corruption, Browder was at peace.
As the new Russian leader imposed state order on bourgeois anarchy, he sided with Putin for the next three years. During these years, Prouder made a fortune, transforming Hermitage into Russia’s largest foreign portfolio investor. His great invention was the shareholder activity in which he targeted corrupt practices in some large companies such as Gosbrom, thereby raising their share price.
Then in 2003 Putin imprisoned Michael Kodarkovsky, Russia’s richest oligarch at the time, and instead of resisting corruption, he began cracking down on the formally intimidated oligarchy. That put an end to Browder’s busy-bodybuilding by deporting him from Russia in 2005.
Eighteen months later, Hermitage’s offices were raided by Russian authorities and its documents removed. Those documents were later used by Interior Ministry officials to stage a $ 230m (£ 175m) tax deduction scam. They later charged Broder with the fraud, and when his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, exposed the authorities responsible for the fraud, the same officers arrested Magnitsky.
Magnitsky, who had not been charged for nearly a year, died a few days before his release – murdered, and Browder and several other independent investigators beat him to death by prison guards. Subsequently, Browder, a British man living in London, devoted himself to bringing justice to his friend, primarily the Magnitsky Act – a bill authorizing the US government to allow human rights offenders and freeze their assets. Similar legislation has been enacted in 33 countries, including the UK and the EU.
However, once adopted, the Magnitsky Act was largely unused in the United States, especially in the UK. It was only after the Russian invasion of Ukraine that British officials belatedly noticed the priority of Russian billionaires who had embezzled their money in London. At the end of the book, Browder tells us that $ 230 million went to these shores from tax evasion. Significantly, the British authorities did nothing about it.
But the Russian authorities did. They targeted the browser. He is embroiled in a lawsuit against a Russian shell company that used a portion of the stolen $ 230 million to buy property in New York. The Russians hired a lawyer who had previously worked for the browser, which was eventually banned by the lawyer due to a conflict of interest, but his personal information was passed on to those who came out to get him before the browser.
He was subjected to a series of Interpol warrants, and at one point in the book he was arrested in Madrid under a Russian request. He did not know at first whether the Spanish police were in fact Russian agents in disguise, and then he did not know whether he would be arrested and extradited to Moscow – where he might have met the same decision as his lawyer.
The incident must have been terrifying, and in a way obscures the 2018 Helsinki summit between Putin and Donald Trump in comparison to another moment in the book that reminds us of Proto. Outside the blue, Putin offered to transfer some Russian intelligence agents to Browder, and at a joint news conference Trump said he thought it was an “incredible offer.”
Browder was on vacation at his home in Colorado at the time, and the black-out secret service imagined Land Cruisers coming, and he would be sent to Moscow to face a fraudulent visual investigation and a mysterious death behind bars.
It’s an incredible story, told with speed and like a thriller. There is something deeply hurtful about our sense of justice about an innocent man structured by powerful forces. It is a fear that Alexandre Dumas and Alfred Hitchcock have had a dramatic effect, but what is most troubling here is how well the Western establishment is adapting to Russian crimes and lies.
Lawyers, politicians and the usual useful idiots have all been successfully recruited for Russian cause through financial incitement, bribery, anti-Western sentiments of cows or, above all, complacency. Representatives of each of these groups are featured in the book, in which witnesses to the Russian scandal fall from the roof or die of a sudden heart attack under strange circumstances. There is a full range of poison, intimidation, intimidation and dirty tricks.
Throughout this, Browder is interestingly enthusiastic and determined. The story of a rich man who goes against the Russian government in the context of the nightmare that unfolds in Ukraine seems hilarious. But they are related events, and as this book makes all clear, it took us a long time to identify the true nature of the regime that connects them.
Freeze order: a true story of Russian money laundering, state-sponsored assassination and escaping the wrath of Vladimir Putin Published by Simon & Schuster (£ 20) by Bill Prouder. To support Defender And Viewer Order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery fees may be charged