(Editor Note: This is Part 1 of a special exposé series by Guest Contributor and Author Regina Mouradian, based off her groundbreaking book The Hermitage Effect: How Bill Browder Went From Ally to Enemy of Russia.)
There is a new weapon of war being used most people aren’t paying attention to. We all, of course, have seen (dis)information wars being used, with countries and individuals spending millions on public relations campaigns to combat smears or to look more noble in the public eye.
It’s one thing to lose your reputation and standing, but now a new weapon is being used to destroy you financially without the opportunity to face your accuser, present your defense, or stand trial in front of a jury of your peers. The only thing needed to cancel you on the global financial chessboard is an executive order placing you on “a list”. Financial Wars fought with targeted sanctions directed at specific individuals are here to stay.
If you think this is Star Chamber tactics and goes against the American tradition of due process then we agree. We are seeing an escalation in countries using sanctions on individuals as a weapon, a parallel escalation that appears to be gaining momentum. A UK citizen named Bill Browder is a man who has made it his life’s ambition to make sure individual sanctions are the new diplomacy tool for the world. He is today receiving lavish praise for his lobbying efforts to encourage countries into believing this is the best way forward to improve human rights in tyrannical countries.
Russia recently placed 25 British citizens on its individual sanctions list after Britain imposed sanctions on 25 Russians and 20 Saudis. These “tit for tat” games of, “I sanction you, so you sanction me” have been gaining traction, especially with anti-Chinese rhetoric picking up throughout the West.
With the European Union just having passed the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime Act, China responded with concern it might be used as a political tool to woo allies to attack China under the disguise of human rights in a “free and democratic” world. In this case, China’s concerns might be legitimate because we believe the United States Magnitsky Act which sanctions individuals in the same way European Union (EU) and British Acts do, has already been used as a political tool to cover up a crime.
Part 1: The Talented Mr. Browder
In the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley, Matt Damon plays a character named Tom Ripley who tells a big lie. When a friend discovers his lie, he is quickly silenced. When another person discovers the same lie and he is silenced once again. At the end of the film as yet another character confronts Ripley on the contradictions of his story, he knows deep down his lies will catch up with him. It dawns on him it’s out of his control now, and he feels compelled to silence his best friend too.
It’s a dark, provocative film and I often think of Tom Ripley when I look at UK Hedge Fund Manager Bill Browder. It’s a feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I hear him speak and I truly believe he’s a liar. It compelled me to set out and prove it right or wrong.
How do you prove or disprove a man as powerful and respected as Bill Browder is a liar? He has a billion-dollar campaign behind him, a heavily promoted bestseller of his version of events with over a million copies sold, and a fawning press that will never go against this groupthink mentality.
He has destroyed politicians who attempt to verify his statements. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California was smeared as a “Russian Asset” by an enormous lobbying effort mounted to ensure he lost his reelection bid on 2018.
A Norwegian film producer had his documentary about Bill Browder cancelled just hours before it was to be viewed in Brussels. Browder set out on a full-court press to cancel the viewing, even going as far as accusing the Vice President of the European Parliament of being the girlfriend of the film’s director. Both have denied this gossip as nonsense.
Browder doesn’t care if his smears are true or not. The damage is done, careers are ruined, and the victims sometimes have to pay millions of dollars to defend themselves against false accusations.
One victim of Browder, who was framed for a crime he did not commit, is a Russian citizen Denis Katsyv. Browder accused Katsyv of being part of a gang that stole a quarter of a billion dollars from the Russian Treasury using Browder’s empty shell companies to commit the heist. He also claims a whistleblower by the name of Sergei Magnitsky was deliberately murdered for pointing the finger at this gang. These are extremely serious accusations, and claims like these deserve evidence to back up such bold indictments.
The problem for Browder is after spreading his outlandish smears in amicable publications, Parliaments, and on speaking tours; his accusations never seem to hold up in any court of law.
Browder is reduced to a mumbling fool, declaring “I don’t remember” and “I don’t recall” when under penalty of perjury instead of in front of standing ovations at TED talks.
Of course, Bill Browder has huffed and puffed the Swiss General Prosecutor MUST have been influenced by Russian disinformation. It couldn’t possibly be because the Swiss Courts did their judiciary duty and didn’t just take just one man’s narrative at face value.
That is the essence of this series. If you look behind the curtain at open sources and compare them to Browder’s own version of events as told in his book Red Notice, you begin to see why some brave politicians, film producers, and curious world citizens have begun to to ask questions about him.
You, as a concerned citizen, can read the original sources, including the so-called whistleblower’s interviews given to police on three separate occasions. You can read what Magnitsky himself testified under oath and decide for yourself if the judge in the Swiss court was correct.
That’s all I’m asking. Read the words of the dead man and be brave enough to ask questions. In a free society, debate is welcomed and evidence is scrutinized. Trying to silence everyone with smears, intimidation, and overt threats of cancellation can only get someone so far. The truth eventually bubbles to the surface, even for someone as talented at lies, deception, and manipulation as The Talented Mr. Browder.
Please stay tuned for Part 2 of this special guest contributor exposé series
Regina Mouradian (@ReginaMourad)