“Rolling Stone” is snookered by Bill Browder‘s fake news

width=200By Lucy Komisar
June 1, 2018

Rolling Stone just posted some Bill Browder fake news in an article by stenographer Seth Hettena.

Familiar fabrications: Browder‘s accountant Sergei Magnitsky is again a “lawyer” who was jailed after he blew the whistle on a $230m scam. Browder tracked every penny of it; it‘s a first time for that lie. Magnitsky was beaten with rubber batons and convicted after his death. Browder was expelled from Russia for exposing Gazprom corruption.

So tedious to have to correct those fabrications which also, BTW, expose Mr. Hettena as a rather incompetent “reporter” who doesn‘t bother to check or apparently even ask for the evidence of what he is told by a very controversial figure.

So, here‘s each falsehood and links to the evidence documenting the truth.

Hettena: “Sergei Magnitsky, the 37-year-old Russian lawyer persecuted by Kremlin authorities after blowing the whistle on a $230 million tax scam.”

Not a lawyer. Browder admits that in his April 15, 2015 Prevezon case deposition in US federal court. The Prevezon case, brought by the Justice Department at Browder’s instigation, targeted a Russian who Browder said had received $1.9m of the $230m.

 He was asked if Magnitsky had a law degree in Russia.
“I‘m not aware that he did,” Browder said.
Did he know if Magnitsky “went to law school?”
“No,” Browder answered.

See that in a video clip. Browder really didn’t want to give that deposition. See him running away from a process server!

Magnitsky was his accountant, in fact, the accountant who managed the tax evasion of Browder’s company, Hermitage. See him identified as workplace: auditor” in Firestone Duncan, No. 8 on his three testimonies. The one below was in 2006, eight months before the famous raid. It was about Hermitage tax evasion.

Magnitsky didn‘t blow a whistle. The first indication of the $230m tax refund fraud was by Rimma Starova, who worked for one of the implicated shell companies and, when she read in the papers authorities were investigating, in April 2008 went to police to give testimony to put herself in the clear. Translation.

The fraud involved shell companies colluding on a lawsuit, paying fake liabilities and then claiming a tax refund for that amount.

Paul Wrench, working for Browder, filed a complaint about the fraud in July 2008. He was asked in a sworn deposition in US federal court in the Prevezon case November 2015, who he discussed it with.

Q. Did you discuss this document with anyone at the time you signed it?
A. At the time I signed it? I would have discussed this document before signing it.
Q. With whom?
A. With Ivan Cherkasov. [Browder’s partner.]
Q. Anyone else that you recall?
A. Not that I recall.

Six years after Magnitsky’s death, with Browder shouting to the world he was a whistleblower, Wrench under oath does not back Browder up.

Browder told the tax refund fraud story to the New York Times and Vedomosti at that time. It’s in his book, which Hettena cites but doesn’t seem to have read. Page 236.

Magnitsky does not mention the fraud until October 7, 2008, at an interrogation to which he was summoned as a suspect in Browder‘s tax evasion –for which he was arrested the following month ” when he tells of “a fraud of budget monetary assets in the amount exceeding 5 (five) billion rubles.” That is six months after Starova‘s first testimony. Three months after publication in Vedomosti and The New York Times.

Hettena: “Browder, who has employed a forensic investigator to track down every penny.” Well, that‘s a new one. Todd Hyman, the Justice Department chief investigator in the Prevezon case, said in a sworn deposition that Browder supplied all the documents it used. Maybe just initial documents, and the DOJ would have searched for more. But in case filings and hearings, the DOJ lawyers never supplied evidence of where “every penny” went.

See video clip of Hyman’s deposition taken by lawyer John Moscow.

In a May 10, 2017 ruling, Judge William Pauley said that at best, Prevezon showed disputes of fact that had to be resolved by a jury. On the complex tracing of the various shell companies through which money flowed to Prevezon, Pauley said that though there were strong indications of money-laundering, the government had not identified the individuals behind supposedly suspicious transfers and had not tethered transactions to the Russian tax scam. But there is enough evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the Government, for the jury to make those determinations. So Browder didn’t track down every penny, he just claims it.

Hettena: “Magnitsky was chained to a bed, repeatedly beaten with rubber batons and later found dead on the floor of a Moscow prison cell.”

The report of the Public Oversight Commission for Human Rights Observance in Moscow Detention Centers, to which the Wall Street Journal links on its website, and the report of the Physicians for Human Rights in Cambridge, Mass., say he died of disease made worse by medical neglect. No evidence of a beating has ever been made public.

Browder posts photos of bruises on Magnitsky’s wrists and ankles. The first would be from handcuffs, the second from kicking against a door or bars. No mark on any other part of the body, nothing on face or head or torso, hardly an indication of being beaten by batons. (Browder usually says it was done by eight riot guards over an hour, which means they all were aiming for Magnitsky’s wrists and ankles.)

Hettena: After his death, Russian prosecutors posthumously convicted Magnitsky on charges of tax evasion.

No, the Russian court ruled that the case had to be dropped since Russian law does not allow for trying the deceased.

Hettena: “a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton”

The author is confused. Apparently, promoter Rob Goldstone, trying to get a meeting, told Trump Jr that. All Natalia Veselnitskaya said (it‘s in her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee) was that Browder’s biggest client, the Ziff Brothers, contributors to the Democrats and presumably to Hillary Clinton, had laundered as loans the investments Browder managed. Since the only reason for that was to avoid taxes on profits, she suggested they likely evaded taxes. Wonder if the IRS is checking that out. (Testimony here.)

Hettena: “kicked out of Russia for trying to root out corruption at Gazprom, the state-owned natural gas giant.”

Visa was denied because he hadn‘t paid back taxes. See the judgment.

He admitted in his deposition to taking deductions for hiring disabled workers, when he hadn’t hired any workers. It was common practice only for companies that actually hired disabled workers.

Advised by Arthur Anderson of Enron fame? Hardly a recommendation. He also mentions Firestone Duncan, where Magnitsky worked on the Hermitage account.

Hettena: “Two years later, Magnitsky disappeared.”

Rather silly hyperbole to say “disappeared” when he was very publicly arrested. He was in contact with Browder’s lawyers who never did anything to get him out. Such as paying the back taxes which, under Russian law, would have freed him.

Rolling Stone should run a correction.

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3 Responses to "“Rolling Stone” is snookered by Bill Browder‘s fake news"

  1. Lubin Bisson   Jun 2, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Keep up the great work Lucy.


  2. susan   Jul 19, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    The truth. Is it so much to ask? Thank you for being relevant way before we knew that we needed you to be.

  3. Cindy   Aug 5, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    I just started to follow this story about Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act. I have not viewed
    the complete deposition yet. No wonder certain US Senators are nervous about president
    Trump talking to the Russian president.


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