Read: December 2022
Inspiration: Listened to a podcast on the Magnitsky Act and wanted to learn more about its background
Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.
“Freezing Order”, published in 2022 by author and former investor in Russia Bill Browder, tells the story of Browder’s efforts to expose corruption and human rights abuses in Russia. The book discusses how Browder, a hedge fund manager, became an advocate for justice after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was killed in a Russian prison in 2009. Browder shares his experiences of working to expose the corruption and abuse that Magnitsky had uncovered, and his efforts to seek justice for his death via the Magnitsky Act. The book also covers the broader context of the Putin regime and the ways in which it has used its power to silence opposition and undermine the rule of law. Freezing Order is a gripping and eye-opening account of one man’s fight for justice in the face of corruption and repression.
Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.
Bill Browder grow up in Chicago, graduate Stanford biz school ’89 then to East European desk of Salomon Bros in London, then 1996 moved to Moscow to start Hermitage Fund and soon found companies invested got money stolen by oligarchs/corrupt officials, decide to investigate how robbery occurred and suit/publicize, 2005 putin declare Browder threat to nat’l sec and expel, 18 months later office raided and take seals/certificates of investment holding co’s at lawyer offices which proved ownership, russia still open criminal case vs Browder colleague Cherkasov so defend with Russian lawyers, find out those who stole seals forged docs to show 1bn owed to shell co’s and sue investment co’s, rigged case with guilty plea, Browder file complaint vs Karpov and associates (Karpov assigned to then oversee at Interior Ministry—flip crime case onto Browder), Browder lawyer Sergei Magnitsky dig and find criminals applied for fraud $230mm tax refund—approved christmas ’07 and paid out (largest tax refund in russian history, criminals frame Browder and co for theft with forged docs, Magnitsky not flee Russia at time though—thought would be protected, Browder hire John Moscow to defend (NY DA office), Magnitsky to russian prison where eventually tortured and killed, spark Browder to get revenge as learn of more tax refund fraud and Karpov and oligarchs untouched, Magnitsky act to freeze assets start in US then to EU parliments where meet Boris Nemtsov (deputy PM under Yeltsin, hate putin and left), John Moscow pulled into Madoff fraud which overlapped, russian money center around Universal Savings Bank and Stepanov and Klyuev who owns Bank and mob boss, file criminal complaint in Switzerland and need to keep publicity going so Swiss pursue, Stepanov would blame dead people for crime after killing them, Russia try to make up docs and ties to Magnitsky and fraud and have fall guys take fake blame—Stepanov got off in court free so Browder publish with Barron’s in apr 2011 expose, week later swiss freeze Stepanov assets, Klyuev would kill people and then blame for fraud to deflect, Stepanov was where money sat in Swiss accounts, 2012 at euro parliament conference Klyuev show up to push to shut down but videoed and Magnitsky Act pass huge majority—Klyuev swiss accounts then frozen, found connection to shell company buying NYC real estate and try to publicize, Perepilichnyy was original informant—killed in Paris 2012 poison, US senate pass Magnitsky act and Putin furious—ban US adoption of russian kids, hold early 2013 trial of Sergei posthumously (first ever) and Bill in absentia, putin put out propanda vs browder and arrest request to interpol, sept 2013 finally SDNY file asset seizure for shell that had NYC real estate, John Moscow resurface representing Russians in the case—use knowledge of Bill and team to advantage and to intimidate/stalk, Browder release Red Notice on Magnitsky big success 2015–book tour to promote and while in europe, Nemtsov assassinated in Moscow, Moscow say CCTV off for maintenance, Putin say not involved—all lies, brought on Michael Kim as new unconventional lawyer as John Moscow tactics work and subpoenas not invalidated—Kim suceed in doc dump/time waste/judge get annoyed and suspend subpoena eventually after Moscow team request hearing again, use Moscow weight against them, Vladimir Kara Murza russian national ally of Browder—poisoned 2015 by putin (british citizen as well), spring ’15 putin’s chief law officer put out article explaining Browder as agent of US to weaken russia since 90s and now steal 230mm, jan 2016 now that Moscow and Bakerhoetstler attack Browder, Browder team claim adverse and disqualify moscow which Griesa as judge agree then reverse then Browder appeal to new court who halted trial and April ’16 remove Griesa and still considering disqualify Moscow, Panama Papers come out from collection of dozens of int’l journos—link Putin to 2.1bn in laundered money via russian cellist best friend (some of money linked to Magnitsky $230mm), russia continue disinfo with movie in US—leverage old Wsj and Nyt journalists (not registered as lobbyists though—violate FARA), Veselnitskaya was orchestrating on behalf of russian gvt, summer 16 moscow and Bakerhostetler disqualified formally, Glenn Simpson was for wsj journo who had close ties to russia and have all info people follow—behind Steele dossier, behind Browder misinfo campaign/movie, Trump in putin’s control with compromising videos/info, 2017 nyt expose veselnitskya met with don jr and manafort and simpson—say about “adoption” which code for Magnitsky act and Browder—huge story as FARA complaint pick up (vesel is known putin propragandist), russia continually try to prison Browder via interpol, browder and team help expose Danske Bank fraud/russia corruption in Denmark (8bn+ transferred through shells connected to russia), trump/putin Helsinki conference mention Browder by name by putin in exchange for 12 GRU officers Mueller charged from DNC hack—trump say “incredible offer”, unravel hundreds of billions flowing from Putin/allies through various international banks (up to 1 trillion)–why putin so concerned by Browder and Magntisky Act