Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s profanity-laden conversation that took over the media by storm last Thursday, July 27, could have been a distraction technique by the Trump administration to overshadow a shocking senate judiciary committee testimony by Bill Browder.
Browder, a financier, was scheduled to testify Wednesday, July 26, when Trump made his unexpected tweets about banning transgender people from serving in the US military. Browder’s testimony was then moved to Thursday, when “The Mooch” made statements about Steve Bannon trying to “suck his own c**k” and more.
Browder’s testimony revealed details of Russia’s shadow organizations that use torture, murder and extortion to cover up illegal money gathering. All of this information shared by Browder relates to the Magnitsky Act, which created consequences for Putin’s shadow officials.
Browder worked in Russia as a successful businessman until he and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered a $230 million corruption scandal. After they reported their discovery, Browder was barred from reentering Russia and was accused of tax evasion. Magnitsky was put in prison and is believed to have been beaten to death. “Sergei Magnitsky was murdered as my proxy. If Sergei had not been my lawyer, he would still be alive today,” said Browder.
The Magnitsky Act was passed by US congress and held Russian human rights abusers accountable by barring them from the US and freezing their financial assets. Browder claims the act drew a strong response, “Putin was furious. Looking for ways to retaliate against American interests, he settled on the most sadistic and evil option of all: banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American families.”
Browder went on to explain:
For two reasons. First, since 2012 it’s emerged that Vladimir Putin was a beneficiary of the stolen $230 million that Sergei Magnitsky exposed.
Recent revelations from the Panama Papers have shown that Putin’s closest childhood friend, Sergei Roldugin, a famous cellist, received $2 billion of funds from Russian oligarchs and the Russian state.
It’s commonly understood that Mr. Roldugin received this money as an agent of Vladimir Putin. Information from the Panama Papers also links some money from the crime that Sergei Magnitsky discovered and exposed to Sergei Roldugin.
Based on the language of the Magnitsky Act, this would make Putin personally subject to Magnitsky sanctions.
This is particularly worrying for Putin because he is one of the richest men in the world. I estimate that he has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains from these types of operations over his 17 years in power.
He keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation. Therefore, he has a significant and very personal interest in finding a way to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions.
The second reason why Putin reacted so badly to the passage of the Magnitsky Act is that it destroys the promise of impunity he’s given to all of his corrupt officials.
There are approximately ten thousand officials in Russia working for Putin who are given instructions to kill, torture, kidnap, extort money from people, and seize their property.
Before the Magnitsky Act, Putin could guarantee them impunity and this system of illegal wealth accumulation worked smoothly. However, after the passage of the Magnitsky Act, Putin’s guarantee disappeared.
The Magnitsky Act created real consequences outside of Russia and this created a real problem for Putin and his system of kleptocracy.
Browder then explained the role of the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump Jr. and discussed the Russian “adoptions” and the Magnitsky Act. Browder described Natalia as being in a “group of Russians acting on behalf of the Russian state”.
He went on saying:
Pyotr Katsyv, father to Denis Katsyv, is a senior Russian government official and well-placed member of the Putin regime; Denis Katsyv was caught by U.S. law enforcement using proceeds from the crime that Sergei Magnitsky uncovered to purchase high-end Manhattan real estate (the case recently settled with the Katsyv’s paying $6 million to the U.S. government). Natalia Veselnitskaya was their lawyer.
In addition to working on the Katsyv’ s money laundering defense, Ms. Veselnitskaya also headed the aforementioned lobbying campaign to repeal the Magnitsky Act. She hired a number of lobbyists, public relations executives, lawyers, and investigators to assist her in this task.
Her first step was to set up a fake NGO that would ostensibly promote Russian adoptions, although it quickly became clear that the NGO’s sole purpose was to repeal the Magnitsky Act.
Browder also added that “What you need to understand about the Russians is there is no ideology at all… Vladimir Putin is in the business of trying to create chaos everywhere.”
Perhaps most significant is that this further adds to the long list of information about how the Russian’s shadow operations focus on blackmail, or “Kompromat”, to keep their agents in check. Browder explained, “And once you get stuck in with them, you can never leave.”