London Times Runs Fake Browder Opinion Piece

The writers of this op ed managed to put eight lies into just five opening lines, writes Lucy Komisar. 

By Lucy Komisar
The Komisar Scoop

Ben Brandon and Alex Bailin are London lawyers who have co-authored a fake story based on fabrications by William Browder about Russia’s legal action against his tax evasion and the death of his accountant, Sergei Magnitsky. The writers of this London Times op ed managed to put eight lies into just five opening lines.

Co-author Brandon is the lawyer representing the U.S. in its request to extradite war-crimes whistleblower- publisher Julian Assange. This raises questions about the connection between the U.S. and the U.K. in the promotion of the Browder/Magnitsky hoax and the attack against Assange.

Here is their story. And my proof of their fabrications.

Their Story

Screen shot of the London Times op ed.

The Times, October 24 2019

By Ben Brandon and Alex Bailin

We must not lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to holding human rights abusers and corrupt regimes to account.

Sergei Magnitsky, a young lawyer, was hired in 2008 by Bill Browder, the chief executive of Hermitage Capital, to investigate a tax fraud on his fund. Having diligently uncovered a large scale embezzlement by influential Russian officials, Mr Magnitsky was arrested and mistreated in prison in an attempt to pressure him into withdrawing his testimony.

He refused to retract and was beaten to death

My Response

Dear Messrs Brandon and Bailin, I assume that as lawyers you think it’s a good idea to check out what people claim, since even clients lie. Therefore, please consider the evidence below, not what convicted fraudster William Browder apparently told you.

Lawyer: Magnitsky was an accountant. Browder acknowledges in his deposition in U.S. federal court 2015 that Magnitsky didn’t have a law degree or go to law school. See him say it in a video clip. In his own interrogations, Magnitsky is identified as an auditor.

Hired in 2008: Magnitsky worked for the accounting/law firm Firestone Duncan which Browder hired in 1997 to handle his company accounts and tax filings. The Russian court found that Magnitsky in the interests of Browder in 1997-2002 implemented an illegal tax evasion scheme using firms registered in Kalmykia and managed by Hermitage Capital. (See article.) Browder claims he hired Magnitsky in 2007, so Brandon and Bailin get even that fabrication wrong.

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To investigate a tax fraud: See above. He was hired in 1997, 10 years before the 2007 tax refund fraud. Magnitsky’s 2006 interrogation was about Browder’s company tax evasion. See his testimony and the cited article. And the fraud wasn’t on his fund, it was on the Russian Treasury. Fraudsters scammed the Russian Treasury by obtaining a $230mil tax refund based on fraudulent lawsuits.

Uncovered embezzlement: The tax fraud, which is not properly described as an embezzlement as it was a fraud on the Russian Treasury, not on a company, was first reported by Rimma Starova in April 2008. The Russian newspaper  Vedomosti and The New York Times reported it in July 2008. Magnitsky mentioned in in testimony only in his October 2008 interrogation.

Influential Russian officials: There are no Russian officials accused in any of the reports, by Starova, the newspapers or by Magnitsky. Read the documents.

Mistreated: He suffered the same poor conditions as other inmates. There is no evidence he was pressured to withdraw testimony. Or do you have any?

Beaten to death: There is no evidence he was beaten to death. Or do you have any?

The only on-site independent report, by the Moscow Public Oversight Commission, indicates terrible prison conditions and failure to provide needed medical care. The Physicians for Human Rights (Cambridge Mass) report, cites the POC report and is addressed to Browder, who gave PHR 44 documents to back up his claims. It reached the same conclusion.

Browder’s initial statements about Magnitsky’s death, in 2009 and 2010, mention no beatings.

Check out his talk at Chatham House, in your home town. “I don’t know what they were thinking. I don’t know whether they killed him deliberately on the night of the 18th, or if he died of neglect.”

How Browder changed his stories about Magnitsky’s death. (Graphic by Michael Thau)

And the video of his address to the San Diego Law School the next year. “They put him into a straight-jacket, put him into an isolation room and waited outside the door for 1hr18 minutes until he died.”

He invented the beating death in 2011 when he decided to create and lobby for the Magnitsky Act in the U.S. Congress to stop Russian authorities from pursuing him for $100 million in evaded taxes and illicit stock buys.

Ironically, though he uses the U.S. to build a wall against Russian tax collectors, he gave up his American citizenship in 1998 to avoid paying taxes. He is listed by CBS News as a tax expatriate.”

If you are serious lawyers and investigators, you will examine the evidence and respond. (And change your story.)

The rest of the op ed is to support unspecified steps to hold to account those who benefit from human rights abuses and corruption. No mention of the persecutors of Julian Assange or the beneficiaries of the U.K.’s worldwide system of tax havens. The real purpose appears to be to repeat the Browder hoax in the lead.

I sent copies of the article to Brandon and Bailin. No response.

I also sent a complaint to IPSO the British Independent Press Standards Organization.

It calls itself ” the independent regulator of most of the UK’s newspapers and magazines.” It says: We hold newspapers and magazines to account for their actions, protect individual rights, uphold high standards of journalism and help to maintain freedom of expression for the press.

Clauses breached
1 Accuracy
This op ed article is based on egregiously fake facts. See this story and the links for the evidence. I have sent it to the authors. They should retract the story.

Lucy Komisar is an investigative reporter who writes about financial corruption and won a Gerald Loeb award, the most important prize in financial journalism, for breaking the story about how Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford got the Florida Banking Dept to allow him to move money offshore with no regulation. Her stories about William Browder focus on tax evasion.  Find out more on The Komisar Scoop and on Twitter, @lucykomisar.

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15 comments for “London Times Runs Fake Browder Opinion Piece

  1. Skip Scott
    November 1, 2019 at 09:05

    This is a perfect example of what the late Robert Parry called “the Mighty Wurlitzer”. It matters not a whit that anyone who bothers to do any real research knows that Browder’s story is a complete fabrication. The percentage of people who know the truth is infinitesimal compared to the vast majority of lazy MSM consumers. The truth is simply drowned out and the empire’s lies live on.

  2. November 1, 2019 at 04:06

    A private Spanish outfit called “Undercover Global Ltd.” Is currently under investigation for spying on Julian Assange on behalf of the CIA – while the Wikileaks journalist was housed in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.

    With the close proximity of the US government, a major client, to Matrix Chambers, a firm also entrusted with defending Julian Assange from extradition to the US, and the US gov aligned with the “Magnitsky” propaganda campaign of convicted tax-evader and fraudster Bill Browder – a hoax promoted by the founder and joint head of Doughty Street Chambers, also serving as counsel to Julian Assange – serious concerns naturally arise with respect to conflicts of interest, confidentiality risks and more.

  3. Stephen M
    October 31, 2019 at 15:24

    I highly recommend the book Grand Deception by Alex Krainer. It pretty much demolishes Browder’s account and exposes him for the pathological liar and world-class conman that he is. It also does a good job of explaining what happened in Russia in the 90s.. and providing historical/political context in general… as well as providing a different POV on Vladimir Putin than anything you’re likely to encounter here, certainly in the MSM. Of course, like anything that goes against the officially accepted narrative here, it’s hard to come by, but you can find copies online if you’re persistent enough.

  4. Noel Hofman
    October 29, 2019 at 21:07

    (now with URL information)

    Here is The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes (A. Nekrasov, 2017)

  5. robert e williamson jr
    October 29, 2019 at 19:11

    Sure a billionaire with unfettered access to Congress.. A congress that proved, evidently, that they were sorrowfully ignorant of anything even related to factual information.

    I smell a fat cat that smells like a fat rat.

    • Broompilot
      October 30, 2019 at 05:22

      why is a guy who gives up his citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes able to waltz into our Congress and get this Magnitsky Act passed? Is there any one that can put that question to the Congressman that sponsored the silly bill?

    • Chet Roman
      October 30, 2019 at 15:06

      How can a person who renounced his U.S. citizenship to skip taxes and who is financial fraudster get the U.S. Congress to pass a law penalizing Russia for a crime that he committed? Well, first of all he is wealthy and we all know that members of Congress are whores. But, more importantly, the congressman who authored the legislation was Ben Cardin and Browder and Carding are coreligionists, which is a bond that is more important than any congressman’s loyalty to the U.S. Those are the facts, not speculation.

  6. October 29, 2019 at 18:55

    Thanks for this very important report. Considering these and other concerning links between the legal team of Julian Assange – esp. centred in Doughty Street Chambers and Matrix Chambers – and the networks of career conman, convicted tax-evader and fraudster Bill Browder, criminal oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky et al it appears that Julian may be subject to capture by those forces which seek to silence and/or destroy him.

    Matrix Chambers is, currently and ongoing, receiving significant $funds from the the US government (eg. see the Credit Suisse Mozambique ‘tuna bonds’ case). Doughty Street’s imprimatur is lent to shilling for the “Magnitsky” hoax – a Russophobic+ propaganda construct of aforementioned conman Browder, his ally Khodorkovsky, and networks in western state intell and government eg. the late Senator John McCain, US State Dept. crony Jonathan Winer and others, here in North America and also in Europe. (In this grouping we find several of the players responsible for fabricating the “Russiagate” hoax that’s clouded American discourse and geopolitics for these past three years.)

    Something of a cross between a rooting section and a legal nerve centre – this nexus needs further exposure, and, however it can be achieved, Julian Assange need be extricated from proximity to its culture and connections.

    • Occupy on!
      October 30, 2019 at 14:53

      “Thanks for this very important report. Considering these and other concerning links between the legal team of Julian Assange – esp. centred in Doughty Street Chambers and Matrix Chambers – and the networks of career conman, convicted tax-evader and fraudster Bill Browder, criminal oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky et al it appears that Julian may be subject to capture by those forces which seek to silence and/or destroy him.”

      Horrified, I agree with you!!!! And what that sleaze Browder eventually listed as what was being done to his partner in sleaze, Magnitsky, is almost being done to Julian assange, the world’s consummate principled person. I understand Wikileaks was handling and beginning to disseminate information about Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor talking to Trump adviser George(?) Popodopoulus in a London bar claiming to have Russian information on Hillary Clinton that could destroy her.

      That ‘informant’ professor, it turns out, actually has for years been a part of British, Italian and US Intelligence Services.

  7. Martin - Swedish citizen
    October 29, 2019 at 18:35

    The European court of human rights recently pronounced a verdict in a case which I believe was raised by the Magnitsky family against the Russian Federation. From reading a few short articles only in the press, there were some statements in favour of the RF and some against, including on prison conditions in general. It seems this verdict may be very relevant to the present article?

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      October 30, 2019 at 13:44

      Here is the decision by the court

  8. nwwoods
    October 29, 2019 at 18:01

    I hope that agents of the Russian government snatch Browder one day while traveling abroad and drag him back to Moscow to face trial.

  9. Eugenie Basile
    October 29, 2019 at 18:01

    There is a very interesting film-documentary by Andrei Nekrasov called : The Magnitsky act -behind the scene. It’s screening was even prohibited in the European Parliament… a place of democracy and freedom of speech.

    • Noel Hofman
      October 29, 2019 at 21:07

      Here is The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes (A. Nekrasov, 2017)

    • ML
      October 30, 2019 at 09:11

      I watched it around 9 months ago. Well worth seeing. I don’t know if it is still available online, but it was back then.

Comments are closed.