Corrupt “good guys,” Tax Justice Network kills my Browder podcast

By Lucy Komisar
May 11, 2019

The Tax Justice Network, organized in 2003 to fight offshore tax evasion and corruption, has censored a podcast its founding director recorded when I spoke at the Offshore Alert Conference in November in London. I didn’t write about this before now, because I though the TJN leaders might change their minds. But it turns out they are either cowardly or corrupt.

Naomi Fowler, TJN Podcast Editor who censored interview exposing William Browder as fraud.

This story is that TJN podcast editor Naomi Fowler censored/killed a podcast with me done by John Christensen, TJN board chair and founding director, about the corruption of William Browder, the offshore tax evader who invented the Magnitsky hoax to block the Russians from collecting $40mil cheated taxes. And who ran his business through a Mossack Fonsesca/Panama Papers shell company, the system TJN was founded to oppose.

The censorship was supported by TJN CEO Alex Cobham. This should worry anyone who cares about civil society organizations opposed to offshore corruption. Because it shows major dishonesty by these characters. And cowardice.

I spoke at a panel on William Browder “fact or fiction” at an Offshore Alert Conference in London in November. Offshore Alert is a newsletter that investigates and reports on offshore fraud. Browder‘s story is fiction. John Christensen, for a decade CEO of the Tax Justice Network, attended the event as my guest and after that interviewed me for a podcast. And then the censorship started.

Here is the audio link which tells you what Christensen heard. His interview tracked my talk very closely:

First, I must say I know John from January 2003 when we were both among the founders of TJN at a conference of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. I served on the first international board. The goal was a movement to fight against international tax evasion. William Browder should be a poster child.

Here are the emails that tell this latest story. How TJN podcast editor Naomi Fowler killed the Christensen postcast. She told me she got information about the Magnitsky Act that she refuses to tell. Because she was worried about unnamed “risks.” She rejected the suggestion TJN was threatened by Browder, who has censored media in Europe and the US with legal threats and compliant politicians.

The cowardice or corruption of the goodguys

Here is the horrific shameful story. First my most recent emails to TJN CEO Alex Cobham.

Alex Cobham, TJN CEO, who supports the censorship.

From: Lucy Komisar <>
Sent: 27 February 2019 21:16
To: Alex Cobham <>
Subject: Censorship of a TJN podcast by Naomi Fowler

Dear Alex,

Are you aware that Naomi Fowler has killed – censored – a podcast based on an interview John Christensen did with me in November?

I spoke at a panel on William Browder “fact or fiction” at an Offshore Alert Conference in London in November. Offshore Alert is a newsletter that investigates and reports on offshore fraud. Well, Browder‘s story is fiction. He used offshore shell companies in Cyprus and BVI to move/launder profits on which he evaded Russian taxes. The full story is here, on the website of the investigative site 100Reporters. And my website.

It was a perfect topic for TJN, since offshore tax evasion was a key reason TJN was founded in Porto Alegre in 2003. I was one of the founders, as you know.

John had attended the panel where I and two others spoke on the subject. One was a Browder associate, so John certainly heard both sides.

When I inquired about the podcast, first I was told in was in the works, then that some experts had raised questions, and there might be some risk in running it. No specifics, no chance to counter what unnamed experts had said, no opportunity to learn of the risks. By the way, neither 100Reporters nor I confronted any risks on publication of my story in October 2017.

I do not think it is appropriate for TJN to engage in censorship. I have to be suspicious of Naomi‘s judgment and motives when she refuses to tell me what information she may have received that challenge my comments so that I can reply and when she will not say what “risks” she thinks posting the podcast might run.

I have put my communications with Naomi and John in chronological order below.


Tax Justice Network Kills Exposé of Major Offshore Tax Evader

John Christensen, Board Chair TJN, who did the interview for the podcast, won’t speak to defend it.

From: Lucy Komisar <>
Sent: 16 December 2018 22:58:03
To: John Christensen
Subject: podcast

haven’t gotten link to podcast of our interview. Is it up yet?

Subject: Re: podcast
Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2018 17:33:30 +0000
From: John Christensen <>
To: Lucy Komisar <>

Hi Lucy

Sorry about this delayed reply. I spoke with Naomi Fowler last week and she is planning to include your interview in the January Taxcast; she has been talking with US lawyers who can affirm that the Magnitsky Act adds little or nothing to previously existing laws.

best wishes


Subject: Re: podcast
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2018 15:25:03 +0800
From: Lucy Komisar <>
To: John Christensen <>


that last comment is interesting

hope [she] includes that in her commentary

of course, the Act was all for propaganda by the americans and to build a wall against russian justice by browder


Twitter messages

Naomi Fowler sent you a Direct Message. 1/26
Hi Lucy, I’m getting it transcribed at the moment…

Naomi Fowler sent you a Direct Message. 1/26

I’ve been setting up a Francophone Africa monthly programme to join our monthly Spanish and Arabic programmes, but I’m on it, we’ll get there. I understand the importance of this
Naomi says on twitter message in January she is getting transcript made.


From: Lucy Komisar <>
Sent: 12 February 2019 03:28:20
To: Naomi Fowler
Subject: podcast on john’s interview

It is now 3 months since John did the interview with me.

It can’t be taking that long to do a transcript.

what is going on?

have you been threatened by browder?

Naomi cites an unidentified RISK

On 2/12/2019 5:28 AM, Naomi Fowler wrote:

Hi Lucy, no, no threats. I have considered the subject matter a lot, got some advice on the Magnitsky Act from several experts as recently as yesterday (was going to email you today!) and discussed extensively with the TJN team.

What I have concluded is that I don’t have time to do this very important subject justice or to properly assess the risk factors. It’s just me that produces our monthly English language podcasts and I direct three other podcasts each month in Arabic, French and Spanish as well, soon to be a fifth one in Portuguese as well as my other communications duties for TJN.

I hope you can understand that it’s with great regret that I have decided to leave this interview in the ‘bank’ for now with the hope we may be able to come back to it at a future date. I appreciate your brave work on this very much.

Naomi Fowler

Creative Strategist
Tax Justice Network
Producer of @TheTaxcast radio show/podcast
Director of Spanish language @J_ImPositiva and Arabic
@taxes_simply الجبايØé ببساطØé

Subject: Re: podcast on john’s interview
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2019 07:55:17 -0500
From: Lucy Komisar <>
To: Naomi Fowler <>, John Christensen <>

I’d like to know what your other experts told you. Who were they? What makes them experts? And did they provide evidence? I can provide documentary evidence for everything I say.

For example, do you know that the Magnitsky Act provides no due process? The targeted people have no chance to see or respond to charges or evidence. Former US Ambassador to Russia McFaul writes in his new book he told Browder at the time he didn’t agree with that. He wrote: “Bill and I had a philosophical disagreement. I did not believe that the U.S. government should be able to seize individuals‘ private property without due process. They should have the right to defend themselves in a court of law. Bill disagreed. He vowed to push on with his campaign in Congress. I wished him luck.”

Do you know that when Browder testified before a congressional committee chaired by one of the sponsors, Rep James McGovern, he told him Magnitsky died after being put in an isolation cell for 1 hour and 18 minutes. He said doctors stood outside and waited for him to die.

When he decided he wanted the Magnitsky Act, he changed that, so by the time he testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 he said “…. they put him in an isolation cell, chained him to a bed, and eight riot guards came in and beat him with rubber batons.”

I think it is very sad that TJN does not have the courage to do a report that goes against the popular wisdom which has been taken over by Russophobia, and which buys into Browder’s lies. You should at least give me the opportunity to respond to what the experts and TJN team say. It’s rather ironically just like the Magnitsky Act, no chance to confront the evidence against me!

I’d like a copy of the original tape.



Subject: Re: the browder podcast
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2019 15:04:47 -0500
From: Lucy Komisar <>
To: John Christensen <>

John – I’m awaiting your response. This is a major ethical question for TJN. And also for you. Does TJN, do you, lack the courage to name a major offshore tax evader? How are you assessing the consequences? Of posting the podcast that names him? Or of censoring it?


On 2/13/2019 5:25 PM, Lucy Komisar wrote:

Dear John

I am very astonished and disappointed in what has happened with the excellent interview you did with me in London after the Offshore Alert Conference panel on William Browder in November. As you heard both sides at the session, you certainly understood the issues, and that came across in the interview.

How now is it possible for Naomi Fowler to decide not to do the podcast because some unnamed-to-me “experts” gave her “advice” on the Magnitsky Act. What does that mean? Was she talking to Browder‘s people? And if somebody challenged something I said, why didn‘t she ask me for evidence?

Were you involved in any of this? Did you know she was considering killing your interview? Did you do something about it? Did you oppose it or approve it? And what role did the “TJN team” have? Who is on that team?

What does she mean by lacking time to properly assess the risk factors”? What is risky about sending out a podcast? Is she worried about Browder suing TJN or perhaps threatening to sue the radio stations that normally carry the podcast? It‘s the way he operates. Did one of the “experts” or “team” members point that out?

This is horrific censorship, rather like the censorship of Andrei Nekrasov‘s film “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes.” As you have seen that, didn‘t it resonate?

This is an issue being considered by the European Parliament (Browder spoke/lied there Jan 29), the UK parliament (he spoke/lied there today Feb 13) and it is being promoted for Denmark. It is therefore very current. The TJN podcast would have provided another view. Its censorship cuts off a critical view.

Do you see the irony that the person TJN is protecting is a big-time tax cheat who laundered his money through Cyprus and BVI shell companies (Berkeley Advisors and Starcliff which of course were set up by Mossack Fonseca of Panama Papers notoriety)? As we were both present at the founding of TJN in Porto Alegre in Jan 2003 and served on the first board, we know that Browder is exactly the kind of person whose corrupt behavior TJN was founded to expose and stop.

So, killing this podcast is a direct violation of what TJN stands for. Or should stand for. It shows an appalling lack of courage to fail to support those founding beliefs.

Finally, when we did the interview, you said you would send me the audio file. I would like that now. I want to go over what I said about the Magnitsky Act and provide documents to prove it was correct.


Christensen takes no responsibility

On 2/16/2019 1:21 PM, John Christensen wrote:

Hi Lucy

Naomi is the editor and producer of our taxcasts and has complete control over their content.  I can advise her, but the final decision lies with her and her alone.

I know that since we did the interview Naomi has been seeking advice about the Magnitsky Act from a range of sources and the advice has been conflicting.  She is pondering next steps.

Best wishes


John Christensen
Tax Justice Network
+44 (0)7979 868302

Subject: Re: the browder podcast
Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2019 16:24:49 -0500
From: Lucy Komisar <>
To: John Christensen <>

Do the advisors all present evidence or just opinion?

I would like to help her assessment by providing documentary proof of anything she has doubts about.

If there is a transcript, which she said she was making, that would help. I would copy it and embed documents all through.

Failing that, I can send evidence I have collected about the Magnitsky Act. Or did she also raises questions about Browder’s tax evasion, Magnitsky’s arrest, etc.

It’s hard to counter anonymous sources when you don’t even know what they are challenging!


So very sad when individuals in an important civil society group devoted to ending offshore tax evasion will not take on a world-class offshore tax evader. Fear and lack of courage to address that fear? Complicity?

Other activists in TJN such as Sven Giegold, a leading Green member of the European Parliament on financial issues, has refused to challenge Browder. A Green MEP Marie-Luise Beck in 2016 banned from the parliament the showing of a film, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scene” that exposed the Browder hoax.

But whatever the political motivations, the Tax Justice Network is seriously compromised by this decision. And these are the goodguys!

On 3/11/2019 9:52 AM, Alex Cobham wrote:

Dear Lucy,

Thanks for getting in touch about this, and apologies for the delayed response (I‘ve just submitted the draft of a book – finally).

As I understand, there has been no categorical decision not to run the piece. Rather, we‘ve recognised that we would need to do substantial, additional work before we could run it; and that at the moment, we don‘t have the capacity available to do so. We remain interested in the story, of course – above all, the question of whether any of the dynamics and biases in play may result in inferior policies to tackle financial secrecy and tax injustice.

If I can add one more thing, it would be to suggest that using a term like ˜censorship‘ here is a bit unhelpful. A decision not to use the Taxcast platform for your interview, for the moment at least, is very far from censoring your view. Similarly, that we haven‘t interviewed Christine Lagarde or Angel Gurria or indeed their neighbours is not to censor their views – just a decision not to offer them our platform at present.

We all want to see the unravelling of financial secrecy, and I hope we can continue to pursue that.

All the best,


Alex Cobham
Chief Executive
Tax Justice Network
+44 (0)7982 236863


Subject: Re: Censorship of a TJN podcast by Naomi Fowler
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2019 10:08:40 -0400
From: Lucy Komisar <>
To: Alex Cobham <>

But John DID interview me, for the podcast. I was offered the platform and told the podcast would run in January.

Naomi  first said she was doing a transcript, subsequently said she wasn’t running it, because she had talked to some Magnitsky experts, but she refused to tell me who they were or what they said so I could refute any challenges to what I said.

And she was concerned about risks but declined to say what they were.

You don’t have  to do additional work, you just have to ask me to provide incontrovertible evidence for everything I say.

Glad to do that if you send me the audio file (which John had promised to send me) or the transcript.


This is the rant of James Henry, a McCarthyite throwback who thinks it’s great to support a big-time tax cheat as long as he attacks Putin.

Subject: Re: [GATJ-activists] TJN censors John Christensen’s podcast about William Browder
Date: Sat, 11 May 2019 17:20:32 -0400
From: James Henry <>
To: Lucy Komisar <>
CC: Alex Cobham <>, Activists <>, John Christensen <>,, Nicholas Shaxson <>

Regards, all.

I honestly don‘t think  that TJN or GATJ, much less Fowler has anything to gain from wading into the controversy over Bill Browder‘s offshore activities.   Browder freely admits that he has moved many of his investments to so-called “tax havens, and, indeed, now appears to be a non-dom in London.

On the other hand, when it comes to  fighting the global haven industry‘s other key patron, kleptocracy, no one more active. Here in the US, Browder‘s lobbying  has been instrumental in securing passage of the “Magnitsky Act,” one of the few things other than  election rigging that keeps Putin up at night. He is also actively pursuing litigation against Putin & Co, all over the EU, including Denmark and Cyprus.

In short, like most folks who made their fortunes in Russia in the 1990s, and then decamped, Browder  has some brown stains in his underwear.  Vlad the Impaler would love it if TJN decided to focus, like Lucy does, only on the liability side of the balance sheet.
Back to work,
James S. Henry, Esq.

Global Justice Fellow, Yale U. 
Sr. Fellow, Col.U. Center
on Sustainable Investment
Sr. Advisor, TJN 
( )
Subject: Re: [GATJ-activists] how TJN killed the story about Wm Browder offshore tax evasion
Date: Sat, 11 May 2019 19:27:47 -0400
From: Jim Henry <>
To: Lucy Komisar <>

Stop spamming us. We get your point.
James S. Henry, Esq.

So now disputing someone’s opinion is spam!!! And a mega-tax cheat is now just somebody with a liability side on his balance sheet!!!

Subject: Re: [GATJ-activists] TJN censors John Christensen’s podcast about William Browder
Date: Sun, 12 May 2019 12:17:34 -0400
From: Lucy Komisar
To: James Henry <>
CC: Alex Cobham <>, Activists <>, John Christensen <>,, Nicholas Shaxson <>

The Magnitsky Act is a fake, built of lies. Magnitsky was not his lawyer, but the accountant who did his tax cheating. He was not murdered, according to the documents Browder put on his own website, he was not a whistleblower. Browder is not a someone fighting kleptocrats, he fights Russia because they want the $70 million he stole.

Why are you on his side? Doesn’t a country have the right, duty, to go after a big-time tax cheat? Or is that right only for governments you approve of? What happens to the growing international movement for exchange of tax information? Only involving countries the you approve of?

By the way, who has been targeted by the Magnitsky Act except the Russians? What about the Saudis? It’s obviously a political weapon against countries the US government doesn’t like.

Regarding Denmark, read this by the writer/editor who published the famous Muhammed cartoon.

A book is coming out by a Danish publisher that will tell the whole ugly truth about Browder.

This by a Cyprus reporter when he realized the Browder story was a fake

Vlad the Impaler? Gimme a break. Shades of the Russophobic 1950s McCarthy era. No proof, just vitriol. So sad to see you descending to this level.

Why don’t you ask John Christensen about the interview, which he conducted?  Is talking about a tax cheat wading into controversy? John didn’t think so. (I thought that was what TJN was about.) Browder may admit (after being confronted with the evidence) that he had shell companies. He does not admit to cheating the Russians of $70 million, which has been documented. He even admit in his deposition US federal court in NY 2015 that he used the ruse of claiming he hired disabled workers go cut profit taxes. From about 35% to 5%.  Does that not matter to you?

John did a brilliant interview, brilliant because he asked all the right and relevant questions. He was very pleased with the results.

But we have in this era of the new McCarthyism self-censorship among people who should know better. No one will win except the thieves. Like Browder.

Lucy Komisar

On 5/13/2019 12:42 PM, Alex Cobham wrote:

Dear all,

There is no question of censorship here. We are saddened by how Lucy has chosen to present this, but she is of course free to do so. Similarly, the Tax Justice Network is free to decide what material we publish, according to our own editorial decisions and standards of accuracy.

All the best,


Alex Cobham|
Chief Executive
Tax Justice Network

+44 (0)7982 236863


On 5/13/2019 1:09 PM, Lucy Komisar wrote:

As indicated by the email traffic, John said the podcast would appear in Dec. Naomi said she was having a transcript made. A few months went by. When I asked why the delay, she said a Magnisky expert had raised questions and she was worried about risk. She had never raised that with me.

Then she refused to tell me the questions must less who the expert was. She refused to specify the risks.

Standards of accuracy? What is challenged as not accurate? Why are you afraid to say? Glad to document the accuracy of everything I said.

Would some of you like to know what the questions were? And what the risks were? The latter is probably that Browder makes threats about taking media to court. But he never ever has. Because he doesn’t dare sit in court and have to answer questions under oath.

So if someone is interviewed by TJN for a podcast, is it acceptable to kill the podcast, because the subject is a crook who might sue you? Even though he won’t? I don’t think so. If there was an editorial decision to kill the podcast, why won’t Naomi or Alex say what it was? Why won’t Naomi give me the audio (as John promised I would have) or the transcript? TJN’s decision was pure censorship.

Remember, John asked me to do the interview. I did not propose it to him. But he had heard both sides in the conference where I spoke and he decided my take was correct. His questions tracked my remarks very closely. He obviously decided that the Browderite at the event, Jamison Firestone, was a liar. (Right on that!)

Sad days when a supposed good government organization decides to protect some bad guys.

And why the leader of the organization refuses to provide members and supporters with any evidence to back up his decision. Whatever good TJN does opposing offshore tax evasion, its cowardice here will be an indelible part of the TJN story and that of the legacy of Fowler, Christensen and Cobham.


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One Response to "Corrupt “good guys,” Tax Justice Network kills my Browder podcast"

  1. Robert J.   Mar 14, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Sad to see TJN behave this way. Any update on this story? Thanks.


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