By Lucy Komisar
April 2, 2021
Sometimes the people who work for the West’s Deep State are subtle. But not this time. A webinar by Australian-born lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, a self-proclaimed international human rights advocate who was promoting a book, was mired so deep in lies that if I was the UK authority overseeing that lawyer, I would disbar him for corruption of character. Either that or he is so credulous that he should be disbarred for extreme stupidity.
The April 1 webinar was sponsored by Doughty Street Chambers, a British association of lawyers which Robertson, who also has British citizenship, founded, and Intelligence Squared, a British speakers bureau.
Doughty allegedly represents the best interests of Julian Assange, the world’s poster child for free speech oppression who exposed U.S. Iraq war crimes and was indicted by the U.S. and locked up in Britain’s Belmarsh prison in conditions UN torture monitor Nils Melzer calls torture. You wouldn’t know that from this “human rights” event. He was never mentioned.
Amal Clooney, also at Doughty Street, another self-anointed human rights defender, whose fame comes from marrying actor George Clooney, introduced the hour with reference to tax fraudster William Browder, who has been on a campaign since “his lawyer was murdered in Russia.” That lie was soon repeated by Robertson. Let’s pass on Clooney, she didn’t say much and didn’t seem to know anything.
The comments cited below were said by Robertson.
LIE #1 The “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky. Magnitsky was really an accountant. Here is Browder in a sworn deposition April 2015.
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 the video.
Note the first page of Magnitsky’s testimony in Russia which lists him (#8) as an auditor.
Here is the full deposition. Didn’t Clooney or Robertson read it? Aren’t lawyers supposed to do that?
But let’s go on about the Robertson/Browder Magnitsky fable. And we will see why the Lie matters.
Lie #2. The Rip-off was by Browder and Magnitsky
Robertson declares, “Magnitsky was a tax lawyer who worked in Moscow for Bill Browder’s company, discovered they had been ripped off.
Why does this matter? Because Magnitsky who was an accountant, not a tax lawyer, collaborated with Browder in the rip-off!
Let’s backtrack. First, in 2002, tax authorities in Kalmykia began investigating tax evasion by Browder’s Hermitage Fund. He had set up shell companies in Kalmykia, a Buddhist region which had some tax advantages. To promote hiring of disabled people, it gave big tax discounts to companies that hired at least 50% disabled people. To promote development, it gave another write-off for investing in the region.
Browder set up shell companies in Kalmykia and then claimed massive tax deductions on profits from selling the shares for hiring disabled people and investing in the region. Except his shells had no employees, he just paid off local workers, manual laborers, to use their work documents and list them as stock analysts. He didn’t invest, he just moved assets from one shell to another. The scams were worth $40 million in evaded taxes.
Browder stonewalled orders to pay up. Finally, in October 2006, his accountant Magnitsky, who worked for the accounting firm Firestone Duncan and was assigned to Hermitage, was interrogated by authorities.
Here are the testimonies for 2006 and also 2008.
In June 2007, Russian tax investigators barreling down on the tax scam conducted a search of Hermitage and Firestone Duncan offices and carted off computers and documents, standard for such an operation. When authorities offered to return documents, a Hermitage official declined.
Then the “rip-off.” It was called the “tax refund fraud.” Here‘s what really happened. The tax refund fraud was a scam that some crooked entrepreneurs had been operating for a few years. There were some “professionals” who specialized in it.
One of them, Moscow lawyer Andrey Pavlov, told me, in several hours-long interviews in New York, that he was approached by Viktor Markelov, a convicted felon, who proposed to hire him. Markelov wanted him to obtain a court order based on an invented liability for the Hermitage companies, which would then lead to a claim for a tax refund. (“You didn’t comply with a contract, we lost money, you owe us $1 billion,” which was Hermitage’s entire 2006 profits.)
Pavlov said the refund application would require detailed information from the companies’ books for the year, which he said pointed to inside involvement. Browder’s shells didn’t defend the cases and paid out $230 million, their taxes on the entire 2006 profits.
Markelov went to prison for managing the tax refund fraud. At his interrogation, Markelov talked about the role of Pavlov and also recalled getting documents from a man he knew only as Sergei Leonidovich, as in Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky, who was the agent of the unnamed client.
Transferring the Browder shell companies
Hermitage received legal letters at their old mailboxes about the lawsuits leading to transfer of ownership in July, which was the time of the legal actions. These were mailboxes accessed by Magnitsky. Exhibits to prove this were filed in U.S. federal court in the Prevezon case, which means Hermitage got the legal notices. But Browder never challenged the suits.
Browder‘s complaint says that the true owners of the companies Mahaon, Parfenion, and Riland, learned about these lawsuits by pure chance, and long after the fact. Not true, as the lawsuit notice went to the companies‘ legal addresses, from which Firestone Duncan people, who monitored the mailboxes, got them.
Later Browder would say that the officers who searched the offices had taken documents through which they re-registered the firms. However, that is not possible under Russian law. Some police with documents cannot do it. Owners must appear in person at the company registration office or they must request a change of ownership though powers of attorney.
Here’s what really happened. Powers of attorney were provided by Browder‘s Cyprus shells to Oktai Gasanov, cited by Markelov as his collaborator. Here‘s the power of attorney (translation) from Browder‘s Kone Holdings. Browder claims the powers of attorney are forgeries, but Yianna Alexandrou, employed at the Cyprus company formation agent that set up the shells, swore in a deposition in U.S. federal court that she recognized her signature.
Then the three Browder shell companies were sold to a new figurehead owner July 31, 2007 per this sale agreement. See the reference to Glendora, a Browder shell company in Cyprus which was the owner of the Kalmykia shell Parfenion.
Here is a photo of the bill of sale of Parfenion, one of the shell companies involved in the tax refund fraud. It says Parfenion in English in big red letters. Glendora in English is underlined.
Pluton LLC, represented by Viktor Alexandrovich Markelov, is the buyer. Glendora Holdings Limited, represented by Oktai Gasanovich Gasanov, is the seller. Glendora was Browder‘s Cyprus shell company, owner of his Russian shell Parfenion. In his interrogation, Markelov says Gasanov was his collaborator in the tax refund scheme.
Reregistration of the shell companies
The companies were, according to Magnitsky, not officially re-registered till September. Magnitsky, in June 2008 testimony, says that after “rulings dated 3 and 7 September 2007 by the Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and Leningrad Region” the companies were “were re-registered on 11 September 2007 and 20 September 2007 under new legal addresses in Moscow.” The rulings related to the collusive lawsuits. If that is true, the companies till then would have been registered as owned by Glendora, with their old addresses.
But Glendora is prominent in the July bill of sale. So why wasn’t the company re-registered for five or six weeks? Did the old owners want to keep control, along with the old mailing address?
Magnitsky testified that he received the law suit notifications only on October 16, which conflicts with the July date on the Parfenion notification receipt, sent to an address he confirms is correct. He didn‘t explain why mail was apparently not picked up for months.
Browder ignores the lawsuits
Pavlov told me, “In October the whole Browder team knew about these claims and didn‘t appeal the decision [allowing the take-over of his companies] which had been granted.” That October 16 notice said there would be a hearing October 22. Hermitage sent no lawyer to the hearing. Pavlov said, “They did nothing till the money was paid out of the budget [the Russian Treasury]” at the end of December.
All this points to Browder organizing the tax refund fraud along with Magnitsky. It means Browder is the guilty guy, the tax refund fraud crook! How to cover that up! (Browder refuses to talk to me so I can’t ask him about it. Maybe Robertson would!)
Lie #3 Magnitsky as whistleblower. No it was Rimma Starova
Robertson said: “They discovered they had been ripped off. He (Magnitsky) blew the whistle and he was arrested and jailed by the very people he exposed.
Magnitsky blew no whistle. Look at his testimonies of 2008, after the fraud. He accuses no one.
The whistleblower was Rimma Starova.
Rimma Starova, a pensioner living in Kazan, capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in southwest Russia, saw a Kommersant article about an investigation into Hermitage shell companies. She was the “hired name” sham director of the three Browder shell companies which now were owned by Boily Systems, a British Virgin Islands shell. The companies had been re-registered by Markelov‘s Russian shell, Pluton, used in the tax refund scheme, and then transferred to Boily. (OK, you all know that shell companies are fake companies set up in tax havens to carry out all kinds of corrupt activities. They exist because the western banking system allows it, wants it. )
Starova was concerned the trail would lead to her, and to put herself in the clear, she went to the local police. She told them about the fake re-registration of the companies and false certificates of debt in the amount of 13.5 million rubles (that would be equivalent to the companies‘ profits) that were key elements of the tax refund fraud. Starova doesn‘t talk about a theft of companies by outsiders and certainly not by government officials, but links the scam to Glendora and Kone, Browder‘s Cyprus shells. Her April 9th complaint; English translation.
Her first complaint was April, the second July, Magnitsky mentioned the theft of companies in testimony he was summoned to give (not volunteered to give) only in October.
A Hermitage press release dated September 16, 2008, since removed from its website but saved by the Wayback Machine, claimed that Starova in April had filed a complaint with the Russian Interior Ministry in Kazan “falsely accusing representatives of HSBC‘s companies of the theft of state funds.” Browder‘s shell companies were legally “owned” by HSBC as the Hermitage trustee. Starova was accusing Browder of the scam.
Not till October did the alleged “whistleblower” Magnitsky mention this in testimony.
Lie #4 Robertson said: “ He was arrested and jailed by the very people he exposed.
No, the documents show Magnitsky exposed NO Russian police. NONE.
Browder would later say on his website that Magnitsky was arrested for fingering Russian police.
But that was a lie. The links go to testimony in Russian, with no English translation. Browder didn’t bother posting fake English translations. The U.S. court translations of his testimony, linked above, show these labels are fakes, do not describe the text.
Magnitsky didn’t expose anyone. Magnitsky was arrested for that tax evasion investigated since 2002! Five years before the tax refund fraud. Robertson and Browder are liars.
Lie #5 Then Robertson says Magnitsky was “Denied bail by cruel judges …..
Bail? European Court of Human Rights said Magnitsky was arrested correctly and was kept in prison because he was “a flight risk!” So no bail.
“The Russians had good reason to arrest Sergei Magnitsky for Hermitage tax evasion” said the European Court of Human Rights on Aug 27, 2019. The Court said that on November 24, 2008, “he was arrested on suspicion of having assisted tax evasion and placed in police custody in Moscow.
The Court said: “The accusations were based on documentary evidence relating to the payment of taxes by those companies and statements by several disabled persons who had confessed to sham work for the two companies. One of them testified that he had been in contact with Mr Magnitskiy, had received money from him and had assisted him in finding other sham employees. He also said that Mr Magnitskiy had told him what to say if questioned by the authorities and had asked him to participate in a tax dispute as a witness.”
The Court observes that the inquiry into alleged tax evasion, resulting in the criminal proceedings against Mr Magnitskiy, started in 2004, long before he complained that prosecuting officials had been involved in fraudulent acts.
The Court concluded that Magnitsky‘s arrest was not arbitrary, and that it was based on reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence.
The decision to arrest him was made after investigating authorities noted that during a tax inquiry which had preceded the criminal investigation, Mr Magnitskiy had influenced witnesses, and that he had been preparing to flee abroad. In particular, he had applied for an entry visa to the United Kingdom and had booked a flight to Kyiv. He was a flight risk. Here is the Court decision.
Robertson talked about terrible prison conditions. But they were not aimed at Magnitsky. A report by the Russian Public Oversight Commission for Human Rights Observance, which Browder links to on his website, confirms that prison conditions were bad for everyone, not Magnitsky alone. The group reported that one cell lacked a cold-water tap, and another hot water. On occasion, raw sewage spewed up from the in-ground toilet, covering the floor of Magnitsky’s cell. It took 35 hours for authorities to move Magnitsky and two cellmates. Broken windows existed and were fixed. The building was 100 years old and Russian prisons were not like prisons in Denmark.
Lie #6 Magnitsky was “eventually beaten to death by security staff.” All the evidence refutes that.
See the death certificate noting “no sign of violent death.”
There were some marks on the skull, so the forensic report noted “closed cerebrialcranial injury,” with a question mark.
But Browder, always the fabricator, took that document to distort the truth to argue that the cranial injury meant Magnitsky had been beaten. Of course, he made the “no signs of violent death” illegible.
But, Magnitsky’s mother told forensic investigators that her son had fallen and hit his head in 1993, 16 years earlier, and suffered a concussion, which was treated. The investigators found the reports. They included them in the document Browder received, so the shameless prevaricator knew his connection of a cranial injury to the invented Magnitsky beating was a fabrication. Here’s what the forensic report said:
The Public Oversight Commission for Human Rights Observance made no claims of beating. Its report November 16, 2009 said:
6:30 p.m. Review by the doctor on duty. Diagnosis: Acute Cholecystitis and Pancreatitis. Hospitalized to the surgery department. For dynamic monitoring and treatment. 7:00 p.m. The patient behaves inadequately. Talks to a “voice,” looks disorientated, and shouts that someone wants to kill him. He condition is diagnosed as psychosis. The emergency doctor was called (order No. 904253). There are no body damages apart from traces of handcuffs on the wrists. It was planned to make an anti-spasm therapy prior to the arrival of the psychiatrist but such therapy was not possible due to the aggressive behavior of the patient.
9:15 p.m. The patient was surveyed again as his condition deteriorated. When the psychiatrist was examining the patient the latter’s condition deteriorated sharply. He lost conscience. The reanimation procedure was started (indirect heart massage and ventilation of lungs using the Ambu pillow). The patient was transferred to the special room where he was received an artificial ventilation of lungs and a hormones injection. Reanimation procedure lasted 30 minutes. At 9:50pm the patient died. The report.
The Physicians for Human Rights, Cambridge, Mass. made no claims of beating. The report. All invented by Browder with zero evidence. And repeated by Robertson.
SO WHERE ARE THE RIOT GUARDS WHO BEAT MAGNITSKY TO DEATH MR ROBERTSON? Why did you make that up?
Another smoking gun of Browder’s fabrications are Magnitsky’s forensic photos
Browder had this and other forensic photos of Magnitsky’s body, but suppressed them, because they showed no signs of beating. They are on a Russian forensic Report 2052 which features those images and more. Allegedly after 80 minutes of beating by thugs.
Lie #7 The European Commission ruling.
Robertson says there are “31 countries with Magnitsky laws.” And the EU finally stepped up to the plate, but didn’t use the name Magnitsky for fear of upsetting Russia.
The 31 is a lie, because Robertson is referring to the U.S., UK a few Balkan countries and, the big number, the European Commission, which does not name its law Magnitsky. LIE, because the sponsor Netherlands Foreign Minister Stef Blok said it should not be called after Magnitsky because it should not be targeted against one country. See this.
Except the whole point of Browder campaign is to target Russia! Doesn’t Robertson understand that? Of course he does. He said the U.S. should have a leadership role because of its economic power. Need for sanctions to be coordinated with the U.S. This is not about human rights, it is about a U.S.-UK attack on Russia.
And of course the Magnitsky Act is really a William Browder Protection Act, to protect him from law enforcement going after him for the massive thievery I have described and which his patron, Robertson, must be aware of.
Robertson talks about the next likely “Magnitsky Act” enforcer, Australia. Maybe here is where to stop. He says “The Australia Foreign office opposed this tooth and nail behind the scenes. Their feet have to be held to the fire.” An appropriate ending: Robertson’s holding feet to the fire torture metaphor is perfect in the mouth of a fake human rights defender.
Watch video about the Browder hoax that Robertson promotes.
There is much more when Browder speaks, but he lies all the time, it’s the way he breathes, so I will add this in future.
Assange? Not a word.
In all this hour there was no mention of Julian Assange, who is imprisoned because of the U.S. and the UK. Only Washington/London adversaries were cited.
Is Robertson corrupt or stupid? I go for corrupt. Clooney seems naïve or stupid. Did she ever ask for evidence about anything?
Here are the stories about the corruption of Doughty Street Chambers that raise questions about its defense of Julian Assange.
First, about Edward Fitzgerald, QC, on the defense team at the Assange extradition hearings. He is co-head of London’s Doughty Street Chambers and head of its Extradition section.
Then about Robertson, founder of Doughty Street Chambers. He is a legal advisor to Assange and is regularly interviewed by international media about the case.
Robertson new book is “Bad People, how to be rid of them.” Bill Browder would go first on the list!