By Bill Browder
In 2008 a young Russian lawyer called Sergei Magnitsky uncovered a massive tax fraud. He found evidence that a group of well-connected Russian officials had stolen a whopping $230m. The same officials had Magnitsky arrested; he was tossed into a freezing cell and refused medical treatment. Magnitsky – who suffered from pancreatitis and gall stones – spent months in pain. This state-sanctioned torture was meant to make him withdraw his testimony. He didn’t. One day his condition grew critical. Guards put him in an isolation cell. There, they beat him to death.
Magnitsky’s case was to become the most notorious and best-documented example of human rights abuse in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. That this happened was down to one man: Bill Browder, a US-born financier and the CEO of a successful asset management company. Once a Putin fan, Browder found himself in trouble in 2005 when he was deported from Russia. He hired a team, including Magnitsky. When the Kremlin got nasty, most of the lawyers fled. Magnitsky – a family man with two small boys, who liked Beethoven – refused to leave. He believed the law would protect him, that Russia had said farewell to its Soviet ghosts. It was a tragic misjudgment.
Read more on the guardian newspaper website
Publisher: Bill Browder
Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005. Since 2009, when his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was murdered in prison after uncovering a $230 million fraud committed by Russian government officials, Browder has been leading a campaign to expose Russia’s endemic corruption and human rights abuses. Before founding Hermitage, Browder was vice president at Salomon Brothers. He holds a BA in economics from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Stanford Business School.
Read more on the Bill Browder webpage