Books Past

Feb 2020: Red Notice

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder

Non-Fiction suggested by Ruthann

A true life thriller. Browder, an American hedge fund founder invests in Russia, gets rich, uncovers fraud and exposes the corruption of Russian government officials. He and his employees escape, but one of his lawyers, Sergei Magnitsky, is jailed, tortured and died in prison. Seeking justice, Browder successfully lobbies the US Congress to freeze the foreign assets of the Russians involved.

One of the Amazon reviewers, Ian K, has written a background note – “Boris Yeltsin and his advisers who inherited the Russian state wanted to make sure that communism would never return. To do this they wanted to create a capitalist state that would replace the centrally planned communist economy. Gorbachev had almost been overthrown in a coup by the communist old guard, so Yeltsin and his advisers felt that they had to put the state on an irreversible course away from communism as soon as possible. This meant privatizing the assets of the communist state (which was all of Russian) in a vast fire sale. Many assets and newly formed companies were sold for a fraction of their value. This was the environment that gave rise to the Oligarchs, brilliant and ruthless men who built multi-billion dollar fortunes from the rubble of the Soviet State.”

Again, quoting Ian K – “Browder writes that exposing corruption worked well while Putin was gaining power, since it cleared away some of the oligarchs that were in his way. But once Putin came to power and became the kleptocrat-in-chief, Hermitage Capital’s investment strategy was no longer tolerated. Browder was making vast amounts of money and lauded as a brilliant fund manager. He writes that he did not see the new reality of Putin unfold until it was too late. The second half of the book is about how Putin’s gang tried to crush Hermitage Capital and everyone associated with it. Ultimately this resulted in the murder of Sergei Magnitsky.”