Confused about the Donald Trump, Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Prevezon story that has dominated the news for the last few days? No worries. Below I’ve broken it down for you in what I hope is digestible pieces. And in order to have a full understanding of what’s going we must first start with Bill Browder, a central figure in this story.
For those of you who have some spare time on your hands and want a more comprehensive background on Bill Browder and Hermitage Capital please read THIS. For everyone else let me try and break down the history behind this man. Bill Browder was born in the United States to Eva and Felix Browder and, interestingly enough, his grandfather was once appointed the leader of the Communist Party of the United States by Joseph Stalin. But just because Browder was born here doesn’t mean he stayed here. After spending years in Russia robbing the Russian people through the privatization program that was implemented with the help of United States, Browder denounced his U.S. citizenship in 1998 in order to avoid paying taxes.
Two years before denouncing his citizenship, Browder opened Hermitage Capital in 1996 with his partner Edmond Safra. Browder had initially asked Bill Clinton’s buddy, Ron Burkle, to be his partner but for whatever reason that never panned out. As I noted in a previous post, Hermitage Capital’s strategy was as such:
“’…investing in the stocks of companies that were out of favor due to bad management, corruption, shareholder rights abuses or outright theft. We would then work to change management, stop fraud and defend the interests of minority shareholders through shareholder activism.'”
“In other words, Hermitage attacked Russian companies like United Energy Systems, Sberbank, Lukoil, and Gazprom for wrong doing and corruption and many times made a fortune doing so. Essentially, Browder was a whistleblower but I can’t help but wonder how most Americans would feel if a Russian investment banker wandered over to the U.S., made billions of U.S. dollars at the detriment of American citizens because of a failing privatization program that was installed with the help of Lomonosov Moscow State University (See previous post), and then had the audacity to complain about corruption in the very businesses he had invested in in order to make even more money. It’s pretty ballsy (and greedy) and even Browder admitted that he “stepped on many high-placed toes.”
After Browder’s partner, Edmond Safra, died under suspicious circumstances in 1999, his bank, The Republic Bank of New York, and his shares in Hermitage Capital, were sold to HSBC. Again, if anyone missed my previous posts, here’s what I wrote about HSBC,
“HSBC’s background is as dirty as anyone else in this story. For instance, the bank was sued in 2016 for laundering millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels. Then, based on leaked files given to the ICIJ by French newspaper “Le Monde,” it came to light that HSBC also “profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws.” In the case of the Mexican drug cartels, U.S. Attorney General at the time, Eric Holder, declined to prosecute the HSBC which I’m sure had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that FBI Director James Comey once sat on its board in 2013. So there’s that.”
As for Bill Browder he was kicked out of Russia in 2005 on the grounds that he was a threat to national security. He subsequently moved all of Hermitage Capital’s financial assets out of Russia but that didn’t stop the Russian Interior Ministry from raiding his Moscow office in 2007. And to make a long story short, months after the raid, Browder alleged that he first noticed unusual activity with some of Hermitage Capital’s subsidiaries sometime in October, 2007.
To make another long story short what allegedly had happened (according to Browder) was that Hermitage Capital’s subsidiaries were essentially stolen and used to fraudulently collect a $230 million tax refund from the Russian government. And just to be very clear about this story: The $230 million was stolen from the Russian government, NOT from Bill Browder, Hermitage Capital, HSBC, or its subsidiaries. Hermitage Capital’s subsidiaries were merely a vehicle for stealing the funds.
After Bill Browder became aware of the theft he hired Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant from Firestone Duncan, to look into it. And again, this money was not stolen from Hermitage Capital so it seems really weird that Browder, who had been kicked out of Russia two years prior, felt some obsessive need to help the Russian government figure out who stole their money, right? Right.
So whatever. After researching the situation, Bill Browder and Sergei Magnitsky suspected that Renaissance Capital, some members of the KGB or possibly the FSB, and the Russian government were involved in the theft. Browder, Hermitage Capital, and HSBC contacted and filed documents with the Russian government about their findings but the Russian government did not investigate the situation. On November 24, 2008, and after giving statements and testimony about his findings, Sergei Magnitsky, Hermitage Capital’s accountant that Browder had hired, was arrested and detained on tax evasion charges stemming from the Hermitage Capital case—the same exact charges that Renaissance Capital, the KGB, and the Russian government had been accused of by Bill Browder, HSBC, and Magnitsky.
If you’re confused already it would be like two kids arguing about who stole a lollipop from Susie. Little Johnny accuses Susie of stealing her own lollipop while Susie accuses Little Johnny of stealing it. In this case Little Johnny is Browder/HSBC and Susie is the Russian government. It’s kind of like that.
Okay, over a year after Sergei Magnitsky was arrested and imprisoned he died in a Russian prison as a result of criminal misconduct or possibly even murder (although investigative and medical reports have contradicted each other). Leading up to Magnitsky’s death, Browder prided himself on working to free the imprisoned Sergei Magnitsky (because narcissism is his strong suit) but if Browder’s ten-minute Youtube video about the tax refund scheme is any indication of how much effort he put into saving Magnitsky then it’s a sad commentary on Browder since he didn’t mention Magnitsky until 9:35 minutes into the video.
After Magnitsky’s death, Bill Browder went from Level Five Obsessed to Defcom Balls Out in a campaign to take down Russia. And why wouldn’t he? I mean, he had dog in this fight because he was making tons of money in Russia but then was kicked out by the government, right? So if anyone had a bone to pick with Russia at this point it was Bill Browder and yet everyone seems to forget that part of the story.
Anyways, after Magnitsky’s death, he met with U.S. officials in an effort to push the Magnitsky Act—legislation that proposed economic and visa sanctions against those the U.S. deemed responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s death. The Act was first introduced by none other than John McCain and Ben Cardin in October, 2009 and signed by President Obama in December, 2012. And you have to understand here, yes, I believe that whoever was responsible for Magntisky’s death should absolutely be held accountable, there’s no doubt about it. But you also have to understand that Bill Browder was a tax-evading former U.S. citizen who somehow obtained some level of power over our U.S. Congress by using information about the tax refund fraud case that only came from Browder himself. I mean, isn’t that a little strange? Furthermore, the Magnitsky Act was passed in December, 2012—literally a month before Rosatom took control of Uranium One so that seems a little weird too. I mean, it’s like:
U.S.: We’re passing sanctions against you, Russia.
Russia: That’s not cool.
U.S.: Sorry about that. You want our uranium?
Okay, I’m not saying that’s how things went down but the contrast between the Magnitsky Act and the Uranium One/Rosatom deal, both of which happened within a month of each other, illuminates two very conflicting foreign policies the United States had towards Russia at that time. The whole Russian adoption thing comes into this story right about here because it was shortly after the passing of the Magnitsky Act, like mere weeks, that Russia curtailed all U.S. adoptions in Russia. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing and I’m not saying that Russia did it in retaliation to the Magnitsky Act, but what I will tell you is that the U.S.-Russian adoption thing was an issue well before the Magnitsky Act was passed in December. But no one likes to report on that either. See this article for more details.
THE MONEY TRAIL
So where does Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump, Jr., and Prevezon Holdings come into all of this? First, we have to follow the money trail of the $230 million in stolen tax refund money in order to get there. Three companies initially received the stolen funds: Makhaon, Parfenion, and Rilend. Here are three charts showing where some of money has been traced to:
Before we discuss these charts let me just say that I saved these puppies awhile ago and can longer find my notes which state where I got them from. So yes, I totally suck because as of right now I can’t give credit where credit is due so if anyone comes across the blog site that has these charts posted please let me know so I can credit the website (Update: Charts came from thenetworkthinkers.com website). Okay, moving on…
The first chart traces some of the stolen money to Sergey Roldugin, a famous cellist in Russia and also the godfather to one of Putin’s daughters. Like the rest of the stories involved in the Hermitage Capital tax refund scheme it’s a convoluted one that I’m not going to get into today but you can read more about it through Suddeutsche Zeitung’s website about the Panama Papers HERE..
The second chart traces some of the money to Dmitry Klyuev. And although you don’t see it, the money in the second chart actually moved from USB, a Moscow-based bank with subsidiaries abroad, before landing in Klyuev’s lap and, interestingly enough, Klyruev was the former owner of USB. He was also a tax advisor for Renaissance Capital—the same company that Browder, HSBC, and Sergei Magnitsky accused of being part of the tax refund crime.
(And if you don’t know who Renaissance Capital is at this point it’s the same company that paid Bill Clinton half a million dollars for a speech at the same time Renaissance was pushing for the sale of Uranium One)
The third chart (here’s another one from the DOJ) is what we’re interested in today because that money trail is what pertains to Donald Trump, Jr., Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and Prevezon Holdings. As you can see, the earlier part of the trail is exactly the same as the other charts but this time instead of some of the money being diverted to Nomirex Trading, it was sent to Prevezon Holdings.
THE PREVEZON HOLDINGS FEDERAL CASE
On July 30, 2009, The New York Times ran an article about Bill Browder and the tax refund scheme because Browder filed court documents in New York that same week. In the documents, Browder claimed that “Western investors in Russia had colluded with the authorities to steal hundreds of millions of dollars through tax refunds and then laundered the money through New York banks.” Additionally, he hired former United States Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to represent him in a “request for a subpoena for bank wire transfers and other records.”
Let’s stop there for a moment. Is that even normal? I mean, can non-U.S. citizens simply request bank wire transfers when they’re not part of law enforcement, the government, or even a criminal and/or civil case that hasn’t been filed yet?? And I’m legitimately asking because this sounds like fifty shades of shady if you ask me but then again I’m not an attorney. And again, why did Browder and HSBC care? I hate to keep harping on this but this money was stolen from the Russian government, not Browder. And if you think I believe that Browder was obsessed with Russia solely because of Sergei Magnitsky’s death/murder in a Russian prison I can assure you that I don’t. Of course the argument could always be made that the Russian government stole their own money to set up…I don’t know…the KGB or FSB officials? Other officials in the Russian government? Renaissance Capital? Prevezon? I mean, that’s weirder than Browder being able to request wire transfers but I suppose anything at this point is possible.
Four years after Browder requested the wire transfer records, on September 10, 2013, a case was actually filed against Prevezon Holdings by former Federal Prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. A released statement by the DOJ stated that the U.S. government sought forfeiture of “assets of 11 companies, including four luxury apartments and two high-end commericial spaces in Manhattan, as well as civil money laundering penalties.” Bottom line? The U.S. government appeared to believe that Prevezon had received illegal funds from the Hermitage Capital tax refund scheme, laundered that money through U.S. banks, and then invested it in New York real estate. And it probably goes without saying at this point that the owner of Prevezon, Denis Katsyv, had already been put on the Magnitsky List—the sanctions list stemming from the Magnitsky Act.
As an interesting side note, this blog post reported back in 2015 that Denis Katsyv appeared to have been chummy with a top manager of Sberbank, the same bank that hired John Podesta’s brother and lobbyist, Tony Podesta (for more see HERE). I haven’t had any time to do more digging on this so take it with a grain of salt. Additionally, I don’t know if the attorney mentioned in the article is the same Natalia Veselnitskhaya who met with Donald Trump, Jr. but I’m guessing it is. This means that Veselnitskaya has had ties to the Katsyvs for awhile.
So who is Natalia Veselnitskaya? Well, first of all, it appears that she goes by either Veselnitskaya or Vladimirovna as her last name and don’t ask me if that’s a maiden/married name thing. I have no idea. Additionally, if the above article is accurate she has represented the Katysv family for years before representing the owner of Prevezon, Denis Katysv, in the above federal case that was filed by Preet Bharara. The case itself was settled a mere two months ago (on the eve that trial was set to begin so there’s that) and The Hill reported that Natalie Vladimirovna “told one Russian news outlet that the penalty was so light ‘it seemed almost an apology from the government.'”
I know a lot of people have brought up the fact that this case was settled right after President Trump fired Preet Bharara implying that the Trump administration somehow wanted Prevezon off the hook for the alleged crimes they committed. However, it’s not like Mr. Bharara appeared terribly disappointed at the news of a settlement.
The other thing to note about this case was Bill Browder’s refusal to testify which you may realize at this point is beyond absurd since Browder hasn’t stopped running his mouth about the tax refund scheme for literally ten effing years. I mean, you would think that if anyone would want to testify it would be the guy who has been shoveling this story down everyone’s throats. And what about Sergei Magnitsky? I thought Browder was all about fighting for justice for Magnitsky and yet he can’t even testify? Here’s a great video of Bill Browder running down the street in an effort to avoid being served for the court case. Insane.
THE GRASSLEY LETTERS
There is a bunch of stuff making the rounds on Twitter including two letters from Senator Grassley dated March 31, 2017 and July 11, 2017 (thank you @TrudieFaith and @DanaBoos3 for the head’s up). Of course both letters are way juicy because first of all they implicate the Russian attorney that met with Donald Trump, Jr. as being in bed with Fusion GPS, the group that hired Christopher Steele back in September, 2015 to write the Trump “Dirty Dossier.” So all of this seems really shady doesn’t it? Of course it does. But admittedly, I, myself still need to do more digging and research into Christopher Steele, the dossier, and Fusion GPS. But I will say this, no one, and I mean no one, is reporting on the fact that both of Senator Grassley’s letter are based on a FARA report that Bill Browder himself filed with the DOJ back on July 15, 2016.
I think one of the more interesting things to note in Browder’s FARA report is this (page 2),
“C. To discredit the established version of events regarding the theft of $230 million from the Russian Treasury and the death of Sergei Magnitsky as told by William Browder, CEO of Hermitage (“Mr. Browder”)…”
I mean, this guy is so narcissistic and such an idiot that he openly admits that the entire “established version of events regarding the theft…and the death of Sergei Magnitsky” was told by Browder himself. And look at the timeline:
June 3, 2016: Donald Trump, Jr. receives his first email from Rob Goldstone, a publicist for Ermin Agalorov, who wrote that Ermin’s dad, Aras Agalorov met with the Crown Russian prosecutor (most likely they meant Yuri Chaika) and they had dirt on Hillary they wanted to share.
June 9, 2016: Donald Trump, Jr., Kushner, and Manafort meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 12, 2016: Julian Assange mentions in an interview that there will be upcoming leaks with regards to Hillary Clinton.
June 14, 2016: The DNC says that they were hacked but refuse to turn over their servers to the FBI. The FBI doesn’t seem to mind.
June 15, 2016: Guccifer 2 makes his first appearance online.
June 28, 2016: Bernie supporters file a lawsuit against the DNC.
July 1, 2016: Shawn Lucas, a process server at One Sources Process, serves the DNC.
July 5, 2016: James Comey announces that no charges will be pressed against Hillary. That evening, files that will later be leaked by G2 are moved onto a thumb drive.
July 10, 2016: Seth Rich is murdered.
July 15, 2016: Bill Browder sends the DOJ a FARA report stating, amongst other things, that Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was colluding with Fusion GPS to get the U.S. to lift sanctions against Russia.
July 22, 2016: Wikileaks starts leaking the DNC emails.
I mean, come on. If Browder isn’t in bed with the CIA and/or the Clintons I will be shocked.
One other thing that Grassley wanted answers about is Natalia Veselnitskaya’s visa. You see, it seems that after Veselnitskayva was hired by Prevezon and she wanted to participate in the Prevezon case she was denied entry into the United States. She was later issued a “parole letter” sometime in 2015 by the U.S. government that expired on January 7, 2016. She was then denied an extension on January 4, 2016, and yet she had her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. on July 9, 2017. Of course this begs the question of how she got back into the country?
The Hill reported on this today and stated that she was “cleared into the United States by the Justice Department under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ before she embarked on a lobbying campaign last year that ensnared the president’s eldest son, members of Congress, journalists and State Department officials, according to court and Justice Department documents and interviews.” So yeah. That happened.
The other thing I want to point out about this article (and others) is that it is not necessarily a big deal that she was lobbying against the Magnitsky Act. I mean, she’s Russian, her client is Russian and her client is also on the Magnitsky List. This isn’t rocket science. But yes, she could be a Russian spy trying to take down Trump.
I think I’ll stop my update here although I could probably go on for days. For instance, was Natalia Veselnitskaya working with insiders from the Democratic party and/or IC or was she set up as much as Donald Trump, Jr. was? And what about George Soros? He was kicked out Russia in November, 2015, and I find it hard to believe that payback didn’t play a role in any of this. There’s also the DNC leaks to keep in mind, the Russian narrative that the Democrats are so desperate to keep, the missing tax refund money, Renaissance Capital and its ties to both the Clintons and the uranium deal, the DNC lawsuit…blah blah blah.
I’ll update when I can.