I just finished reading an amazing book, RED NOTICE, by Bill Browder. It should be required reading for every American, particularly at a time when high-level members of our government seem to be cozying up to the murderous regime of Vladimir Putin. Browder, had the foresight to move to Moscow at a time when the country was privatizing its companies and the Wild East offered opportunities for investors who got in early. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, with his Hermitage Fund becoming the largest foreign shareholder in Russia.
But then he ran into the Russian mafia, run by none other than the head of state, Putin. Not only did they manipulate the capital structure of companies such that Hermitage’s ownership was greatly diluted, but once they took control of the companies, they stole from the Russian government the millions that the formerly Hermitage-controlled firms had paid in taxes. But they didn’t stop there. Next, they accused Browder and his colleagues of having been the ones who had committed the crimes. Putin’s cronies then turned to their Stalinist roots: they arrested, tortured, and murdered Sergei Magnitsky, one of Browder’s attorneys.
By uncovering, and then publicizing, the crimes of the Putin mafia, Browder became Kremlin’s most hated enemy. They came after him, but he wouldn’t back down. Following the murder of his friend Sergei, the author turned from hedge fund manager to crusader for justice. With the help of Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, he managed to get the US government to enact the Magnitsky Law, one that hit the Russian criminals where it hurts. Putin retaliated by disallowing Americans to adopt Russian children–thus depriving thousands of his own young citizens of the opportunity to receive decent medical care and to lead happy lives. Such is life in the world’s most corrupt nation.