Thursday, 22 June 2006

We are not safe doing business in Russia

In the 5 Apr 2011 Telegraph article, 'We are not safe doing business in Russia', William Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management, told us this:

“For 10 years, I was the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia, with 6,000 investors from 30 countries totalling $4.5bn (£2.8bn) under management. Our investment strategy in Russia was to improve rights of minority shareholders, promote good corporate governance and expose corruption.

The trouble began after my fund launched a campaign to clean up THE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR CORPORATE MALFEASANCE TAKING PLACE IN THE RUSSIAN STATE-OWNED GAS MONOPOLY GAZPROM, AND IN SURGUTNEFTEGAZ. After we named names and exposed the details of several enormous corruption schemes, the Russian foreign ministry declared that I was a ‘threat to national security’. On November 13, 2005, I was deported and barred from re-entering the country.

My deportation was the beginning of an unimaginable nightmare. On June 4, 2007, the Russian police raided my offices in Moscow, seizing documents which were then used by Russian officials to expropriate our investment holding companies, forge billions of dollars of fake liabilities and embezzle taxes that we had paid to the Russian government the previous year. Incredibly, officials then approved – overnight – the largest fraudulent tax refund in Russian history, amounting to $230m. This was paid out two days later to a group of criminals working hand in hand with corrupt officials. Meanwhile, MY EMPLOYEES AND I RECEIVED ANONYMOUS DEATH THREATS.

So we hired a young Russian lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky to investigate. Working with lawyers and forensic investigators, he pieced together evidence of the criminal conspiracy and testified on the record against senior police officials, judges and criminals involved. SERGEI WAS THEN ARRESTED BY THE SAME POLICE OFFICERS HE HAD PROVIDED EVIDENCE AGAINST, LOCKED AWAY WITHOUT BAIL OR TRIAL AND SHUFFLED BETWEEN INCREASINGLY HARSHER DETENTION CENTRES FOR A YEAR IN AN EFFORT TO GET HIM TO CHANGE HIS TESTIMONY. HE WAS DENIED MEDICAL CARE AND FAMILY VISITS, AND TORTURED.

AFTER 358 DAYS IN DETENTION, HE WAS FOUND DEAD. The Wall Street Journal described his death as a ‘slow assassination’.

What happened to Sergei was not a one-off. Neither is what happened to me, nor to many others. Mikhail Khodorkovsky is set to spend 14 years in a Siberian jail after his former company Yukos Oil was expropriated by the Kremlin following trumped-up charges. In 2006, Shell was forced to sell 50pc plus one share of its lucrative Sakhalin Island project under threat of serious criminal charges. BP was hit with a £148m tax bill as well as having 148 employees expelled from the country. Telenor, Ikea, NewsCorp, Motorola and Nestle have endured similar illegal sanctions by the Russians.

It is a fact that THERE IS NO SAFETY FOR PEOPLE WORKING IN RUSSIA AND NO PROTECTION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS. LOCAL JOURNALISTS HAVE BEEN ATTACKED AND KILLED IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, human rights activists and intellectuals are silenced, opposition leaders are detained, business competitors and professionals are wrongly accused and prosecuted, and foreign whistleblowers or international journalists are deported.

IN TODAY'S RUSSIA, BRITISH CITIZENS ARE NOT SAFE TO INVEST OR DO BUSINESS. IN FACT, THE MORE SUCCESSFUL YOU ARE, THE MORE LIKELY YOU ARE TO BE TARGETED BY THE CORRUPT REGIME. Nor does it stop at money and assets, but extends to the horror of divided families, and physical violence…

It is time for the British Government to look after the interests of its people in its dealings with Russia… Russia is a country in which British companies are in constant danger of having their assets expropriated and their employees harassed, arrested and killed.”
'Time for the British Government to look after the interests of its people ', Bill?

Apart from the international financiers and folks like yourself, when did a British government last do that? Interesting, very interesting, that they should have let a bloke like yourself fall foul of Russia’s 'gangsterocracy', though.

For that matter, I reckon you deserve a bit of a ticking off for involving yourself out there in the first place. Are you seriously telling me you weren’t aware of the corruption? I mean, Putin is ex-KGB for goodness sake. And, when he was President, he appointed Russia’s current incumbent, Dimitry Medvedev, as Chairman of your 'malfeasance'-ridden, Gazprom! One imagines such people would not care too much about the ethical and legal niceties.

Anyway, what follows is the kind of thing a businessman with his wits about him should have known before he went dipping his profit-seeking toes in the Russian swamp.

On 26 October 2008, The Sunday Times reported thus:

“The Russian Oligarch who gave hospitality to Peter Mandelson is this weekend revealed to have been linked to the former boss of one of Russia’s most powerful criminal gangs. A high court judgment details the alleged social and business links between Oleg Deripaska and Anton Malevsky, a Russian mobster. Malevsky was then reputedly the head of an organised crime gang and his brother Andrei had a 10% stake in Deripaska’s company…

Deripaska, the richest Russian businessman in the world before the credit crunch, is unable to travel to America after his visa was withdrawn. The decision was made after a series of allegations in American courts about alleged criminality in his business…

The Sunday Times has been told that in a discussion between Mandelson and senior figures at the British embassy in Moscow, it was said there was a 'shared wish' for the oligarch to remain involved in British business…

The preliminary High Court judgment relating to the case, issued in July, details the alleged links to Malevsky, who, according to both the former Russian interior minister and Interpol, was the leader of the Ismailova gang, one of Russian’s biggest criminal organisations… Deripaska told a Swiss court in February 2005 that he knew Malevsky only by name. But Malevsky’s widow insisted she and her late husband had stayed at Deripaska’s home…

The business secretary is however likely to face further questions about possible conflicts of interest. Less than a month ago, Mandelson said he wanted to see 'writing commitments on free trade in raw materials' in bilateral trade agreements. The EU strategy reflected his belief in free trade, but is likely to benefit Deripaska’s aluminium empire.”
In 1994, Russian government officials advised Israeli police of 34 known 'Mafia chiefs' who had immigrated to Israel. Anton Malevsky received his Israeli passport in 1994.

In 1996, Forbes’ Magazine, the USA’s leading business journal, stated that Boris Berezovsky, Russia’s first billionaire was the head of the Russian Mafia and, in a January 1997 edition of the influential US News and World we read:

“Berezovsky and his ilk have exploited for personal gain wrongheaded economic reforms that were impoverishing the average man… Berezovsky has proved that building wealth in the new Russia has much to do with government cronies smoothing the way and little to do with free competition...

Most disturbing of all to Russian reformers is the impunity with which Berezovsky has operated. His road to capitalism would have landed him in jail in most civilised countries, but brought no criminal charges in the new Russia.”
Did you get that?

In 'most civilised countries' Berezovsky would have landed in jail. So what happened to him after the Forbes articles was written? A month before Putin had Mikhail Khodorkovsky arrested, Boris Berezovsky slipped out of Russia and sought political asylum in another country. Only two countries in the world were prepared to grant him the refuge he required. One of these was Israel.

The only other world leader, apart from Ariel Sharon, who was happy to accommodate Berezovsky was Tony Blair. Blair's generous treatment of Berezovsky was duly noted by Russia’s nouveau riche and many have since established themselves here. Berezovsky, himself, has been quoted thus in Forbes:

“They are businessmen. Some of them are very rich. Some of them are middle scale... They feel they are well protected here."
With the Blairs, Browns, Camerons, Mandelsons and Osbornes in charge, I'll just bet they do.

The Russian Oligarchs got rich on the back of 'multi-billion dollar corporate malfeasance' and the silencing of honourable, young truth-tellers like Sergei Magnitsky.

In 2009, George Osborne was also noted hanging out with Mandelson's favourite Oligarch.

Oleg Deripaska is the business partner of Nathaniel Rothschild. Deripaska is Jewish, as, of course, is Rothschild. Berezovsky and the aforementioned incarcerated Oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, are also Jewish.

Many of the richest Oligarchs who plundered the wealth of the people and enriched themselves so obscenely during Russia's particularly nasty variation on the privatisation scam were of Jewish extraction. Whether any of these would kill journalists, silence human rights activists and intellectuals, detain opposition leaders, wrongly accuse and prosecute business competitors and deport international journalists, I couldn't say.

The owner of The London Evening Standard, Alexander Lebedev, and Boris Berezovsky’s former factotum, Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club would, probably, be the two highest profile Oligarchs in residence here at the present time. Lebedev is a former KGB man and Abramovich is, you guessed it, Jewish.

As was Peter Mandelson's dad. As is the mega-rich gent who wrote the the Telegraph article cited above. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Bill Browder:

"Bill Browder and Edmond Safra (also Jewish) founded Hermitage Capital Management in 1996 for the purpose of investing initial seed capital of $25 million in Russia. The business was very successful, profiting from the wave of privatizations occurring in Russia at that time...

His fund became a prominent activist shareholder in the Russian gas giant Gazprom, the large oil company Surgutneftegaz, RAO UES, Sberbank, Sidanco, Avisma and Volzhanka...

Bill Browder has amassed a significant fortune through his management of the Hermitage Fund. In 2006 he earned an estimated £125-150 million. In 2007 he earned a further £125-£150 million...

He was blacklisted by the Russian government as a 'threat to national security' and denied entry to the country...

Bill Browder is the grandson of Earl Browder, the former leader of the Communist Party USA."
The things that you don't get told in the mainstream media, eh?

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