For Putin, It’s Reportedly All About Money

( We all wonder about Putin’s reasons for invading Ukraine. Some guess he’s reacting to NATO’s expansion, while others say he can’t stand a pro-Western Ukraine. Some think Putin wants to reconstruct the Soviet Union.

It’s not for any of those reasons, according to international financier Bill Browder. It’s simply about money. Russia’s government is established to enrich senior officials through widespread corruption, not to serve the people. The higher up you are, the more wealth you gain. Browder estimates Vladimir Putin’s net worth to be more than hundreds of billions of dollars.

Bill Browder witnessed firsthand how Russian corruption operates. Between1996 and 2005, he was the CEO of Russia’s largest foreign investment enterprise. He claims his mission was straightforward; He would buy out cheap shares of Russian firms, expose their wrongdoing, and watch as their stock prices rose as the companies were compelled to clean up their act. It worked, but the oligarchs and corrupt officials who illegally profited from them became angry. Browder was expelled from Russia in 2005 and branded a threat to Russian national security. With his associates, he moved to London and liquidated the fund’s Russian assets. In 2006, his holding companies paid $230 million in taxes and assumed he was finished with Russia.
He assumed incorrectly.
The Russian Interior Ministry searched Bill Browder’s Moscow office in 2007.
Browder claims all records were confiscated and utilized to carry out a complicated tax rebate fraud to loot the Russian Treasury of $230 million that the investment holding firms had paid.
Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, discovered the crime. In 2009, he testified against the officials involved but was then arrested. Magnitsky was kept in police custody for 358 days, tortured, and finally murdered. The people who killed Sergei were elevated by the Russian government and given official awards.
In 2016, An author from the British newspaper The Guardian was part of a group of more than 300 journalists who covered the Panama Papers data leak. Data files showed financial details of an overwhelming amount of offshore companies and accounts belonging to wealthy persons from multiple nations. A Classical cellist named Sergei Roldugin, an old friend of Vladimir Putin was found in the leak. How did a once poor Roldugin amass such wealth? The answer, in Browder’s opinion, is that this cellist was acting as a proxy for Vladimir Putin.
As president, Vladimir Putin can only earn his official income -about $300K per year- and he can’t own any assets other than those he obtained before entering politics. Putin knows that anyone who catches a glimpse of his banking or property documents with his name on them could blackmail him. He has used the same tactics on his enemies.
Through his thorough investigation of the Panama Papers, Bill Browder believes Vladimir Putin can be tied to the $230 million tax refunds for which Browder’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky had been assassinated.

His evidence may indeed link Putin to severe crimes, but who will stand up for the truth? No one on Putin’s bankroll wants to end up on his hit list.