Once upon a time, William Browder was the largest foreign investor in Russia, and buddy to and beneficiary of one V. Putin. And then he wasn’t anymore: unceremoniously banned from the country, his hedge fund stolen, his lawyer killed and stuck with a politically-motivated tax fraud conviction. All of which is bad, yes, but all of which makes for a good book.
Of course, Browder didn’t mine his experience only for literature, he’s used it to campaign tirelessly against the kind of things Putin used to do for him but now does against him. Unfortunately, it’s also a total lie, according to an allegedly equally unsavory character who recently had the pleasure of deposing Browder’s ass, and finding that he’s every bit the tax-fraudster that Russia says he is and that he might as well have personally tortured his lawyer to death.
According to a Russian businessman accused in Manhattan federal court of laundering some of the proceeds of that alleged $230 million fraud, Mr. Browder’s account is a lie. “Under oath, Browder acknowledged that he personally signed income tax returns that Russian tax courts found to contain false representations,” the lawyers wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa.
The lawyers also said that Mr. Browder, founder of Hermitage Capital Management Ltd., didn’t deny claims that his representatives tried to bribe a Russian journalist who spoke with Mr. Magnitsky in prison and was told by him that his superiors at Hermitage “set him up” to take the fall for Mr. Browder’s tax fraud. “Browder asserted that he could not remember whether he ‘ever [had] somebody suggest to Mr. Magnitsky that he should take responsibility for the ... tax returns,’ ” the lawyers wrote. “That is an astonishing failure of memory from someone who has made Magnitsky’s death the center of his public relations campaign.”