Tuesday, February 17, 2015

by Bill Browder

Don't even think of doing any business with Russia, especially if you are a foreigner. It's just too dangerous. If you get on the wrong side of Putin, you could be issued a Red Notice, which is basically an international arrest warrant issued by Interpol. This is not the kind of thing you ever want to receive, because if you leave your native country and cross an international border, you could be arrested.
Bill Browder was the CEO and founder of Hermitage Capital Management. In 2000, the Hermitage Fund had been ranked as the best performing emerging-markets fund in the world. Browder was quite the maverick when it came to finance. After the Soviet Union broke up, Browder made a fortune because Russia had amazing investment opportunities. Working in Russia was exciting and adventurous until Browder exposed the corruption of the oligarchs. These men stole 39 percent of the country after the fall of communism and became instant billionaires. They owned many of the companies  that were traded on the Russian stock market and therefore robbed them senselessly. Putin was not all happy with Browder and threw him out of the country (his visa was revoked).
The offices of Browder and Hermitage in Moscow were raided due to trumped-up charges of tax evasion. While Browder was able to barely escape with his life, his tax lawyer was not so lucky. Sergei Magnitsky was arrested, jailed, tortured, and then beaten to death because he dared to tell the truth. It was time to fight back against the thuggery and Browder became Putin's number one enemy.
Red Notice is one hell of a story. Bill Browder's writing is an in-your-face style and it keeps you riveted. The book reads like a thriller and is a real page-turner.
Russia today is no different ruled by Putin than when it was ruled by Stalin. Lies, deceit, no respect for the individual nor his or her rights. People can be used by the state. Anyone can disappear. When you have a dictator in government that used to be in the KGB, always be prepared for the worst.
Highly recommended.