July 13: Bill Browder with Warren Olney
About This Event
William Felix Browder is an American-born British financier and political activist. He is the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management, the investment advisor to the Hermitage Fund, which at one time was the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia. The Hermitage Fund was founded in partnership with Republic National Bank, with $25 million in seed capital. The fund, and associated accounts, eventually grew to $4.5 billion of assets under management. In 1997, the Hermitage Fund was the best-performing fund in the world, up 238%. The primary investment strategy of Browder was shareholder rights activism. Browder took on large Russian companies such as Gazprom, Surgutneftegaz, Unified Energy Systems, and Sidanco. In retaliation, on November 13, 2005, Browder was refused entry to Russia, deported to the UK, and declared a threat to Russian national security.
Eighteen months after Browder was deported, on June 4, 2007, Hermitage Capital’s offices in Moscow were raided by twenty-five officers of Russia’s Interior Ministry. Twenty-five more officers raided the Moscow office of Browder’s American law firm, Firestone Duncan, seizing the corporate registration documents for Hermitage’s investment holding companies. Browder assigned Sergei Magnitsky, head of the tax practice at Firestone Duncan, to investigate the purpose of the raid. Magnitsky discovered that while those documents were in the custody of the police, they had been used to fraudulently re-register Hermitage’s holding companies to the name of an ex-convict. Magnitsky was subsequently arrested by Russian authorities and died in prison, having been denied proper medical treatment.
When Bill Browder’s young Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was beaten to death in a Moscow jail, Browder made it his life’s mission to go after his killers and make sure they faced justice. The first step of that mission was to uncover who was behind the $230 million tax refund scheme that Magnitsky was killed over. As Browder and his team tracked the money as it flowed out of Russia through the Baltics and Cyprus and on to Western Europe and the Americas, they were shocked to discover that Vladimir Putin himself was a beneficiary of the crime.
As law enforcement agencies began freezing the money, Putin retaliated. He and his cronies set up honey traps, hired process servers to chase Browder through cities, murdered more of his Russian allies, and enlisted some of the top lawyers and politicians in America to bring him down. Putin will stop at nothing to protect his money. As Freezing Order reveals, it was Browder’s campaign to expose Putin’s corruption that prompted Russia’s intervention in the 2016 US presidential election.
At once a financial caper, an international adventure, and a passionate plea for justice, Freezing Order is a stirring morality tale about how one man can take on one of the most ruthless villains in the world—and win.
Browder received his BS from University of Chicago and his MBA Stanford University