I’ve Been Browder‘s Number One Journalist Critic for Two Decades. Here’s What President Trump Should Know About Handling Him

Browder admits in U.S. Federal Court deposition that Sergei Magnitsky didn’t go to law school or have law degree, which means he lied to President Trump.

By Lucy Komisar
July 20, 2018

Lucy Komisar is an investigative journalist who focuses on financial and corporate corruption, particularly the use of offshore bank and corporate secrecy havens. She began investigating William Browder nearly 20 years ago when she learned of his use of an offshore company in the Isle of Man to siphon off profits from the Russian company Avisma, cheating minority investors of dividends and the Russian Treasury of taxes.

Her expose was published by 100Reporters, a highly regarded website that has received funding from the Ford and MacArthur Foundations.

Last October, 100Reporters ran her story about tax cheating in Russia by Browder‘s company Hermitage and his use of Sergei Magnitsky‘s death to build a campaign to block Russian attempts to recoup about $70 million in evaded taxes and illicit stock buys.

Dear President Trump,

William Browder sent you a letter before your meeting with President Putin, and I‘d like to offer you a perspective about Mr. Browder that you probably aren‘t getting elsewhere. I am copying the form of his letter, but substituting Browder where he wrote Putin, and including facts you and the public probably don‘t know. Though there are indications your State Department does know.

As a journalist, I‘ve have been investigating Mr. Browder for nearly two decades. I‘m probably his number one enemy journalist. He had me banned from a public talk December 2016 at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton where he feared I would ask him about his corruption.

As he said with some irony about President Putin, Mr. Browder is a bald-faced liar. Whatever he tells you, it‘s not true.

For example, he cites “the death of my lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, in 2009 at the hands of the Russian state after he had uncovered a massive Russian government corruption scheme.

This is untrue. Mr. Magnitsky was not his lawyer, he was his tax accountant, his auditor, who since 1997 arranged Mr. Browder‘s Russian tax evasion. Though Mr. Browder lied about Mr. Magnitsky being an auditor to you (and also to the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2017), he could not, under threat of perjury, lie in 2015 before the U.S. Federal Court Southern District of New York. He admitted then that Mr. Magnitsky did not go to law school or have a law degree. Here is his deposition. And here is a video excerpt of that admission.

Mr. Magnitsky did not uncover the December 2007 tax refund fraud that cheated the Russian Treasury of $230 million. The three testimonies he gave before his November 2008 arrest did not reveal the fraud. He does not even allude to it until October 2008.

However, the first indication of the fraud was by the Russian, Rimma Starova, who worked for one of the implicated shell companies. When she read in the papers in April 2008 that authorities were investigating the companies, she immediately went to police to give testimony to put herself in the clear.  Here is her testimony in Russian, with an English translation.

Paul Wrench, working for Mr. Browder, filed a complaint about the fraud in July 2008. He was asked in a sworn deposition in U.S. Federal Court November 2015 who he discussed it with. He said, “With Ivan Cherkasov. [Mr. Browder‘s partner.]

No mention of Mr. Magnitsky, who had not yet been arrested and hadn‘t mentioned the case in answers to government investigators. Mr. Browder himself in July 2008 gave stories to the Russian paper Vedemosti and the New York Times about the complaint and did not credit his accountant with finding out about the case. That was three months before Mr. Magnitsky alluded to the case in testimony. So Mr Magnitsky as whistleblower was invented to throw attention off the fact that he was the accountant that oversaw Mr. Browder‘s Russian corruption.

Mr. Browder lies not only about his accountant, but freely declares the Russian government the murderer whenever a critic dies. He said, for example, that the Russians “murdered Alexander Perepilichnyy, a whistleblower who died suddenly in the United Kingdom after coming forward with financial details on the criminal group behind Sergei‘s murder.”

In fact, Mr. Perepilichnyy fled Russia after investments he was carrying out for shady characters went bad after the 2008 crash. He lived in London with his wife, but became very ill at the Bristol Hotel in Paris, where he had an assignation with a girlfriend, who recounted that fact. Mr. Browder got someone to say Perepilichnyy had had been poisoned by a rare plant, but expert testimony at the British inquest showed that was untrue.

Based on all of this, there are a few things you need to know about Mr. Browder.

He is a brilliant conman. Just by paying attention to him, governments and press are giving him a huge gift. Because Russian authorities had solid proof of his tax evasion and illicit share purchases, he could not defend himself in the usual way with lawyers. He had to enlist governments and press to represent him, making his defense a political cause in which they conveniently ignore evidence, even his admission, of corrupt dealings.

For example, in his U.S. Federal Court Southern District of New York deposition in 2015, one subject was the tax scam by which his companies took tax deductions for disabled workers they never hired. As the companies were shells set up only to hold shares, they had no employees. He was asked, “Who came up with the idea that you could use this tax regime?”

He replied, “[W]e were advised by Arthur Andersen, Firestone Duncan, Ernst & Young and various other firms that this was a proper way of organizing our affairs.” Arthur Andersen, of course, was the Enron accountant and soon dissolved. Firestone Duncan employed Mr. Magnitsky, who oversaw the tax cheating.

Browder values money far more than human life. During the year Mr. Magitsky was in pre-trial detention, he could have been released at any time had Browder only paid his back taxes, then about $40 million. Mr. Magnitsky told Oleg Lurie, a journalist who was in prison at the time under a fraudulent charge that was later dismissed, that he thought his employers would get him out, but they had betrayed him. Lurie gave a sworn deposition to U.S. Federal Court.

Mr. Browder wants to derail your attempts at a better relationship with Russia, because that could lead to the State Department acknowledging the truth about his tax evasion and illicit stock buys and cooperating with Russia, as it does with other countries, in bringing him to justice.

Mr. President, the only way to deal with a person like William Browder is to contain him, not to engage him. He will lie to you, flatter you, trick you and betray you. The only message you can give him is that America will not let itself be deceived any longer, that it can and will stop him.


Lucy Komisar
Investigative Journalist


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17 Responses to "I’ve Been Browder‘s Number One Journalist Critic for Two Decades. Here’s What President Trump Should Know About Handling Him"

  1. Paul Kremmel   Jul 26, 2018 at 5:08 am

    Thank you for this letter and for your comments on Loud and Clear. Via a link placed by Philip Giraldi in the Unz Review, I was finally able to watch The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scences. I’m not sure that Nekrasov got all the details right, but his conclusions certainly agree with your own. Toward the end of the film he criticised the reporting on the Panama Papers in the Sí¼ddeutsche Zeitung – the paper I have subscribed to for years as an American living in Munich. https://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/articles/5728d557d7863f665c6eaa21/
    The journalists repeated Browder’s tale uncritically, also quoting the OCCRP to back them up. Nekrasov implies that the OCCRP is somehow in the Browder camp. Do you have critical assessments of the work of the OCCRP? I would like to write the SZ reporters and ask them why they took Browder’s position, especially in a series devoted to revealing financial fraud. In any case, I will inform them of your excellent work on exposing what Browder is hiding.
    Paul Kremmel

    LK: If you look at Browder’s deposition given to the US Federal Court in the Prevezon case, you will see that he says that OCCRP people were part of his “team” providing documents he used to get the US Justice Dept to bring the case. The deposition is linked on my expose of Browder’s fakery. https://c1.100r.org/media/2017/10/Browder-Deposition-April-15-2015.pdf

    OCCRP has run the Browder story line without telling readers that it provided Browder with “data” he used to get the US Justice Dept to bring the Prevezon case. This is very very corrupt for a journalist organization.

    And, yes, virtually all mainstream and most alternative US and European media have drunk the Browder Kool-Aid, repeated his fake story with no attempt to confirm whether anything he says is true. Because as you have indicated, it is not. Aside from the corruption of Browder, this story shows the corruption of the western press. Sad and very serious.

    Important that little by little, people like you understand this.

  2. M J BAILEY   Jul 27, 2018 at 7:06 am

    The White Helmets have successfully been exposed as western funded terrorists – to those who care. Keep up your good work – Browder is an evil man – and needs to be unmasked.

  3. Pingback: Lucy Komisar, Winner of Gerald Loeb Award, the major US prize for financial journalism: I’ve Been Browder’s Number One Journalist Critic for Two Decades. Here’s What President Trump Should Know About Handling Him | nbjour


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  7. Ted   Oct 21, 2018 at 9:15 am

    I have read both of Browder’s depositions and it is frustrating being one of the very few people in the general public that understand the tremendous con job perpetrated by Browder.

    It is also frustrating to see US government lawyers and entities co-opted and corrupted by Browder. Sadly, there is no turning back for these organizations.

    I commend you on real journalism, and I hope you can find a way to inform the public and apply pressure on our government to act justly.

    The Magnitsky Act has become a powerful and useful weapon. I’m not sure if you’ve explored that aspect, but it is a big problem in shedding light on this absolute fraud because it is a tremendous source of leverage to even threaten an entity/person with being placed on the Magnitsky List. Truly ironic since Magnitsky was not a lawyer and integral to the crimes/fraud actually committed.

    LK: A problem with the Magnitsky Act is that there is no due process. The targets are not told the evidence against them, they cannot challenge accusations or evidence in a court of law in order to get off the list. This “human rights law” violates the rule of law. There is an International Court with judges and lawyers to deal with human rights violators, but the US has not ratified its jurisdiction. Because it does not want to be subject to the rules it applies to others.

  8. Caroline Collins   Nov 29, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    I listened to Red Notice on Audible. Browder described an incident that did not ring true. He said he and another person were in his car, bogged down in city traffic, when a child vendor came up to the car and showed him some CDs, chock full of purloined data, available for purchase. What luck. He bought the data. It was just what he needed! What fantastic luck.

  9. Kirill Matveev   Jul 4, 2019 at 5:41 am

    My comment to Caroline Collins – I know it may be difficult to believe you can by stuff like that on the street if you are living on UK or US. But have you ever been to Russia on 90x or early 2000x? I was studying in the University in Russia that time and we had a small CD shop just in the lobby area. There you could by Movies, Games, hacked Windows CDs, all different types of hacked software. If you search more – you could easily buy stolen mobile phone database, stationary phone database, all sorts of it. If you want, I’ll send a link with photos how it looked like, cause they were everywhere. May be around 2007-2008 it became more controlled and now it seems unbelievable, but that’s how things were. No incredible luck, very banal thing.

  10. Brett Harris   Jul 7, 2019 at 11:50 am

    But the very records he needed, that is stretching even Browder‘s magical abilities! There may well have been lots of stuff for sale, which makes the exact item he needed exceedingly unlikely. He lies about everything, so the default position is nothing he says is true, but half truths and made made up stories about people he has never met.

    добрый день!

  11. Willy Van Damme   Nov 24, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Congratulations. finally someone is doing the necessary research.

  12. Arthur   Dec 21, 2019 at 4:46 am

    Browder still appears on the BBC unquestioned. Did he con the state department and all the various media organisations ? Or is there just an alignment of interests that makes Browder’s story a useful supporting narrative

    • Lucy Komisar   Dec 21, 2019 at 9:45 am

      He didn’t con the State Department. We know from the hacked emails of Robert Otto (State Dept INR expert on Russia) that it knows Browder is a fake. Otto says so. Some media follow U.S. govt Russia line as a matter of policy, others are lazy or stupid. Now that Der Spiegel’s investigation has been published, saying Browder is a fraudster and his Magnitsky story a fake, we know it is policy, not laziness, as the Spiegel story links to all the proofs. Also could be fear: they don’t want to be outliers or accused of being Russian stooges. Fear is an important factor in writing about Russia today.

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  14. David Otness   Jul 23, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    Thank you, Lucy. You deserve much broader recognition for your work. Some of us “get” it.

  15. Pingback: Hongkong: Opstand met voorbedachten rade – Uitpers

  16. Michele   Oct 6, 2022 at 11:34 pm

    Your writing is awesome! I was friends with Julianna Glover in grade school but we lost touch, I read how she was Browder’s lobbyist. Not impressive at all. He is a full fledged criminal. The swamp is deeper then we can prob imagine. DC needs to be fully drained, same as Wall St. Keep pushing the truth! You were correct at the play in NYC to give the real facts of masks, vaccines and Covid! So many lies, collusion, crimes! Thank you for your amazing work!


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