Bill Browder vs. Vladimir Putin. Who’s Lying?
- The Facts:Bill Browder portrays himself as a businessman fighting against corruption in Russia. Vladimir Putin sees Browder as a criminal who has illegally taken $1.5 Billion out of Russia, and is charged in Russia with not even paying taxes on that money.
- Reflect On:Can we now discern the truth based on the way in which each side is telling it’s story? Can we pick up on the telltale signs?
In the recent summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, both Trump and Putin quashed the never-ending narrative that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections, based on what has become self-evident for most people who are paying attention: there are NO FACTS to back up these claims. Still, amidst the claims by the Mueller investigation that 12 Russian nationals were specifically involved in tampering with the U. S. elections, Putin had a proposal for the American president, which provides a good context for our discussion:
We have an acting and existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty that dates back to 1999: the mutual assistance on criminal cases.This treaty is in full effect, it works quite efficiently.
We can offer that the appropriate commission headed by special attorney Mueller, he can use this treaty … and send a formal, an official request to us so that we would interrogate, hold a questioning of, these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes. And our law enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate material to the United States.
Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit special 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 at this questioning.
But in this case, there is another condition. These kind of efforts should be mutual. Then we would expect the Americans would reciprocate and that they would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States, who we believe have something to do with illegal activities in Russia. We would have to request the presence of our law enforcement.
For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 Billion in Russia. They have paid no taxes — neither in Russia or the United States. And yet the money escaped the country.
They were transferred to the United States. They sent a huge amount of money — $400 million — as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
While that’s their personal choice — it might have been legal, the contribution itself — but the way the money was earned was illegal. So we have some reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions, and we have an interest in questioning them.
That could be a first step and we can also extend it. Options abound, and they all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.
Bill Browder And The Magnitsky Act
Bill Browder is not shy to appear in public and voice his side of the story. In response to the claims by Putin at the press conference, Browder had this to say to CNBC:
“I did not [funnel money to Hillary Clinton]. I’m not a U.S. citizen, I don’t live in the United States, I’ve been living in Britain for 29 years, I make no campaign contributions. I should also point out that Vladimir Putin and his regime have accused me of serial killing, of being a CIA, MI6 agent, and about a thousand other things, so he’s kind of unhinged in these accusations.”
Bill Browder characterizes himself as a businessman fighting against corruption in Russia, with his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison in 2009. This death lead to the Magnitsky Act, described here in Wikipedia:
Background. In 2009, Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison after investigating a $230 million fraud involving Russian tax officials. Magnitsky was accused of committing the fraud himself and detained. While in prison, Magnitsky developed gall stones, pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis and was refused medical treatment for months. After almost a year of imprisonment, he was beaten to death while in custody. Bill Browder, a prominent American-born businessman and friend of Magnitsky, publicized the case and lobbied American officials to pass legislation sanctioning Russian individuals involved in corruption. Browder brought the case to Senators Benjamin Cardin and John McCain who proceeded to propose legislation.
I was quite interested to follow the link to find out the basis for the assertion that Magnitsky ‘was beaten to death’ while in custody. After all, one would think that the bowels of a Russian prison would be the last place such information could actually be eyewitnessed and brought out into the public. It turns out, all one gets is Browder’s account of the story in this Atlantic article.
“…they put him in an ambulance and sent him to another prison that had medical facilities. But when he arrived there, instead of putting him in the emergency room, they put him in an isolation cell, chained him to a bed, and eight riot guards came in and beat him with rubber batons. That night he was found dead on the cell floor.”
The Atlantic article does a great job painting Bill Browder as a hero. Does it ever ask the question as to how Bill Browder knows his story of Magnitsky’s beating to be true? Just sayin’.
Magnitsky Act Becomes Law
Again, from Wikipedia:
In June 2012, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs reported to the House a bill called the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4405). The main intention of the law was to punish Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and their use of its banking system. The legislation was taken up by a Senate panel the next week, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin, and cited in a broader review of the mounting tensions in the international relationship.
In November 2012, provisions of the Magnitsky bill were attached to a House bill (H.R. 6156) normalizing trade with Russia (i.e., repealing the Jackson–Vanik amendment) and Moldova. On December 6, 2012, the U.S. Senate passed the House version of the law, 92-4. The law was signed by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2012.
In 2016, Congress enacted the Global Magnitsky Act which allows the US Government to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.
So if you caught that last part, it means that the US Government can pressure other governments around the world to adopt this same Magnitsky Act, effectively enabling the US Government to sanction Russia by proxy through other nations. Here is Vladimir Putin, responding to a question about Canada agreeing to adopt the Magnitsky Act:
What do I think about what you have just said, about Canada joining or wanting to join, or about somebody else wanting to do it? These are all some very unconstructive political games over things, which are in essence not what they look like, to be treated in such a way or to fuss about so much. What lies underneath these events? Underneath are the criminal activities of an entire gang led by one particular man, I believe Browder is his name, who lived in the Russian Federation for ten years as a tourist and conducted activities, which were on the verge of being illegal, by buying Russian company stock without any right to do so, not being a Russian resident, and by moving tens and hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country and hence avoiding any taxes not only here but in the United States as well. According to open sources, I mean American open sources, please look up Ziff Brothers, the company Mr Browder was connected with, which has been sponsoring the Democratic Party and, substantially less, the Republican Party during recent years. I think the latest transfer, in the open sources I mean, was $1,200,000 for the Democratic Party. This is how they protect themselves. In Russia, Mr Browder was sentenced in his absence to 9 years in prison for his scam. However, no one is working on it. Our prosecution has already turned to the appropriate US agencies such as the Department of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General for certain information so we can work together on this. However, there is simply no response. This is just used to blow up more anti-Russian hysteria. Nobody wants to look into the matter, into what is actually beneath it. At the bottom of it, as usual, is crime, deception and theft.
The Magnitsky Act: Behind The Scenes (Documentary)
Fortunately, to help us sort all this out, there is Andrei Nekrasov’s film, The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes. It is about ‘the filmmaker’s journey as he set out to expose Russian police for murdering Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblower against corruption, and for stealing $230-million from companies that were owned by American-born billionaire, Bill Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management.’
I would be happy to show it below. But it has been removed from Youtube. Which actually should come as no surprise, if you know anything about attempts by Nekrasov to screen it in Europe, all of which were thwarted by a successful ban on all screenings. But who would have been able to pull this off? Bill Browder, who has access to and power over all mainstream media outlets in America and Europe. Why would Browder try to ban a film where the filmmaker, who had long been a critic of Putin and the Russian Duma, wanted to make Browder out to be a hero? The following excerpt from this Need To Know article explains it:
The film producer dug up facts that countered Browder’s claims that his companies were stolen by Russian police and were then used to steal $230 million in tax rebates from the Russian government, and that the police then beat Sergei Magnitsky to death. Instead, the evidence pointed toward Browder having control over the companies when the tax fraud took place, indicating that he engineered the tax fraud. In addition, the producer found evidence that Sergei Magnitsky was an accountant who worked for Browder for years, instead of a lawyer, as Browder claims, and that he died of a pre-existing heart condition while in prison, instead of being beaten to death by the police.
Nekrasov makes the case that Browder created a myth that Sergei Magnitsky was his lawyer and a whistleblower who was beaten to death by the police in gross violation of human rights, because the billionaire was trying to cover up the real crime wherein he used shell companies to fraudulently obtain a tax rebate while claiming that the companies had been stolen, and then he blamed the imaginary thieves for the tax fraud. Browder was convicted for tax fraud in a Russian court, in absentia, in 2013. Browder’s company had ties to HSBC and reaped billions during the privatization period in Russia in the 1990s, after the communist government underwent cosmetic surgery to look like it was now in favor of free markets and private ownership.
So a filmmaker–who was once a friend of Bill Browder, by the way–wanted to make a film criticizing Vladimir Putin and ends up, on the basis of the evidence he uncovers, reversing his position and finding Browder to be the bad guy. Suddenly his documentary film is banned across the whole Western world.
While I haven’t been able to find the documentary online (I’ve already witnessed it removed from two places), this short interview with the filmmaker should help you sort things out in your mind:
Discerning The Truth
I will say one thing about my impression of Vladamir Putin. Though he certainly looks capable of having done some treacherous things in his life, the man talks in a way that indicates he is not afraid of the truth, and he is not trying to steer people away from the truth or from any information that would help us to make up our own minds.
I don’t know about you all, but when I’m searching for the truth, I get a bit suspicious when powerful people decide that someone’s opinion on a matter like this should not be shown to me, that somehow powerful people like Bill Browder and the Deep State have decided to be the arbiters of the truth and that we’re not smart enough to watch a film and distinguish fact from fiction. As our discernment gets sharper during these tumultuous times, attempts to hide the truth, or even to hide what is considered a contrary opinion, will prove to backfire on those who would endeavor to continue controlling us.