Jan 8, 2018 – I love how Wm Browder is considered by otherwise serious media to be the go-to guy for comments on the corruption of others. Here he is quoted in an Al Jazeera story yesterday about how the former Ukrainian President Viktor “Yanukovich’s clan pumped stolen money into companies in Ukraine with bank accounts in Latvia and gradually passed it through dozens of offshore shell companies in Cyprus, Belize, British Virgin Islands and other money-laundering hotspots including the UK.”
“The companies bear the names of nominee directors – cut-out characters who appear to be the owner of a company, but simply act on instruction by the real owner,” says Al Jazeera.
And the money quote: The philosophy of money launderers is just to create a situation where the money has moved through so many different companies and so many different countries, in so many different accounts that it would be almost impossible to recreate the trail, said Bill Browder, chief executive of Hermitage Capital.
The problem with Al Jazeera‘s story is that it didn‘t check out that Browder knows whereof he speaks, because he made millions through an offshore network himself!
Shell companies in Cyprus, British Virgin Islands and a cutout bank based in the UK: Browder, check.
Nominee directors: Browder, check.
Moving money through the offshore network for nefarious purposes: you have to read my story to decide that, but the evidence is pretty heavy for tax evasion and illicit share purchases.
Browder‘s Hermitage investment operation was based on a network of offshore shell companies that started with Berkeley Advisors and Starcliff set up by the now infamous Mossack Fonseca in the British Virgin Islands. With nominee directors.
Here‘s how the network worked. At the bottom were shell companies in Russia that held stocks that Browder/Hermitage bought for itself and clients. Russian investigators said that Hermitage cheated on taxes on investment profits. As the investigators got closer, and after he lost his Russian visa, Browder stripped the Russian shells’ assets and sent them abroad, the Russians think through Cyprus.
The Russian companies were “owned” by Glendora and Kone, shells in Cyprus, of course with nominee directors. Browder is fighting to prevent the Russians from getting information about those companies from the Cyprus government, which would normally cooperate with criminal investigators from other countries. But not when Browder screams that he is a political victim and wraps himself in the anti-Putin flag. What does he have to hide?
Glendora and Kone were “owned” by an HSBC Private Bank Guernsey Ltd trust. HSBC is a UK bank, no stranger to money-laundering. It made a deal with the U.S. Justice Department to pay a $1.9 billion settlement in 2012 for helping Mexican drug cartels launder money and breaching international sanctions by doing business with Iran. (Nobody went to jail.) More about HSBC in the new film HSBC: Gangsters of Finance.
At the top of the offshore shell company network were Berkeley Advisors and Starcliff, BVI.
Browder has tweeted about the Panama Papers that exposed Mossack Fonseca shells, but the international reporters who wrote about Mossack Fonseca, including newspapers that have run stories supporting the Browder hoax, have not found it relevant to say he built his company on MF shells. Laziness? Bad journalism? Political slant? He could tweet this because he knew western media would give him a pass.
Al Jazeera and others, pay attention. Sometimes people know about offshore networks and money-laundering because of insider experience!