The Transylvania Times -

It's About Money, Not Adoptions


August 3, 2017

Among all the news out of Washington last week – the profane tirade of Anthony Scaramucci, the failure of the Senate to pass a “skinny repeal” of health care, the dismissal of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus – Bill Browder’s informative testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee went largely overlooked.

Browder provided insight into how Russians operate and why they so desperately want to revoke the Magnitsky Act.

Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital, which had more than $4 billion invested in Russia. When he learned that Russian oligarchs were stealing money from his shareholders, he made their thievery publicly known. Initially, President Vladimir Putin helped fight corruption because the same people were stealing from the government. Browder said that once Putin had arrested “Russia’s biggest and richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky,” and publicly humiliated him by having him “sitting in a cage in the middle of the courtroom,” the other oligarchs asked Putin what they could do to avoid a similar fate. Putin then requested 50 percent of their thefts and “Putin became the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world, and my anti-corruption activities would no longer be tolerated.”

Afterwards, Browder was declared a national security risk by the Russians and his offices in Russia were raided. He hired a Russian attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, to investigate the raids. Magnistsky learned that some $230 million in taxes paid by Browder’s company had been stolen by Russian agents – agents who then arrested Magnitsky. Magnitsky was abused in prison and his health deteriorated. After months of untreated pancreatitis and gallstones, Russian agents “put him in an isolation cell, chained him to a bed, and eight riot guards came in and beat him with rubber batons. That night he was found dead on the cell floor.”

Browder testified that since no justice would be done in Russia, he thought of “freezing their assets and banning their visas here in the West” because many wealthy, corrupt Russians keep their money in the West. In 2010 he went to Washington to tell some senators his story. After overwhelming support in both the House and Senate, President Obama signed the Magnitsky Act in December of 2012.

Browder said the Magnitsky Act personally hurt Putin, and wealthy, corrupt Russians and several who have exposed this corruption have been killed or survived assassination attempts.

According to Browder, in 2016 a group of Russians, including Natalia Veselnitskaya, hired American lobbyists to influence members of Congress and spread fake news in hopes of repealing the Magnitsky Act.

Browder testified that “at no time did they indicate that they were acting on behalf of Russian government interests, nor did they file disclosures under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.”

Browder’s testimony should make Americans feel quite uneasy about the Trump campaign’s meetings with Russians, including the now infamous meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. Manafort had failed to register as a foreign agent and has a long history of working with Russian oligarchs.

To undermine Donald Trump Jr.’s statement that he would love having some scandalous information about Hillary Clinton, statements have been made that the meeting was about adoptions. On its face, the claim is specious. If the Russians want to reverse the adoption policy, they can do so unilaterally. They do not need any Americans’ approval. And why would three men spend valuable campaign time talking about adoption? The three either knew the Russians wanted the meeting to have access to their money held in the U.S. or they did not understand the ramifications of the Magnitsky Act and were being played by the Russians. (Browder testified “there is no doubt” Veselnitskaya was acting on behalf of Putin and the Russians had “something to offer in return” if the Magnitsky Act were repealed.) Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort were either dangerously incompetent or morally corrupt.

Repealing the Magnitsky Act is not about adoptions; it is about money. It is about allowing Russian leaders and oligarchs to have access to their illegally obtained money held in the U.S. It is an attempt to remake the world into one where crime pays and pays incredibly well.


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