Kremlin critic Browder urges forced oligarch whistleblowers

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Kremlin critic Bill Brower wants governments to step up efforts to recover money siphoned off by Russian oligarchs by forcing accountants, lawyers and others to become whistleblowers.

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DAVOS, Switzerland — Kremlin critic Bill Brower wants governments to step up efforts to recover assets snatched away by Russian oligarchs and linked to President Vladimir Putin, forcing accountants, lawyers and others to become whistleblowers are doing. ,

Browder, author of the nonfiction best-seller “Freezing Order:” A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath, says that Russia’s war in Ukraine has drawn attention to the fact that the oligarchs are the custodians of the Russian leader’s wealth. How are

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“But the elites are not naive,” Brown told the Associated Press on Tuesday at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. “They hired the best lawyers, the best asset protection experts, and there are shell companies and trust companies and offshore companies and nominees and proxies — and the whole thing is very well thought out.”

The founder of Heritage Capital, an early investor in post-Soviet Russia, Browder raised alarm following the 2009 death of his Russian tax adviser, Sergei Magnitsky, in a Russian prison. He has become arguably one of the world’s biggest critics of Putin. ,

Browder credits the efforts of the Biden administration to squeeze Putin and his government as war go by by imposing a freeze on assets of Russia’s central bank, chasing down oligarchs, stopping the export of technology to Russia and supplying arms to Ukraine. had begun.

But when it comes to receiving money from Russian oligarchs, “we are only scratching the surface,” Brower said.

“There are only 35 oligarchs out of 118 who are on the Forbes (richest people) list approved by the US, EU, UK, Canada or Australia. We have to score 118 runs.

Brower says his money is kept in top banks such as London, New York and Zurich, as well as real estate, hedge funds and private equity funds.

“It’s right in front of our eyes and the amount is incredibly large,” he said. “I estimate that since Vladimir Putin took power, he and the 1,000 people around him have stolen trillion from the Russian state.
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And that money is stored in our financial capitals.”

He acknowledged that what he sees as the solution is “quite radical” – “forcing the people who set up these structures, the supporters, the lawyers, the accountants, the trustees under the law to be whistleblowers for the government.” “

“In other words, amend all money laundering and all sanctions legislation to say that those involved in setting up structures for sanctioned persons must come forward with information to the government – ​​or face punishment of fines and imprisonment. have to face,” Brower said.

Jacques Attali, a former top French government official and former president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, expressed hesitation about Brouwer’s idea.

At the outset, “it should be said that a lawyer should not do anything illegal – and that will suffice,” said Attali, a distinguished in Davos. “A lawyer is necessarily in the service of his client.”

“You can strengthen the law. You cannot ask a lawyer to turn in his client,” he said.

The mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Vitaly Klitschko, backed the idea of ​​further cracking down on Russian oligarchs’ money, saying, “I think we have to use every leverage we can to stop aggression, and it’s no secret.
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” That the Russians use it. Money for his (Putin’s) army.”

“Right now, the sanctions work very well. Why? Because the sanctions block the funding of the Russian military,” Klitschko said.

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