Posts Tagged ‘shady intermediaries’

An Investment Gets Trapped in Kremlin’s Vise – Justice a la Gazprom/Russian style

27 augusti, 2008

Här kommer mera om hur Ryssland/Putin gör allt för att få total kontroll over energibolagen och hur de systematiskt genom olika åtgärder och trakasserier (inklusive misshandel) driver bort alla utländska intressen.

Och det spelar ingen roll om du är ett enmansföretag eller jätten BP. Så här går det till i dagens Ryssland om du råkar säga något som misshagar makten eller råkar äga något bolag som Putins gäng vill åt.

Där alla statens (alla) maktmedel används för att nå syftet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/world/europe/24kremlin.html

July 24, 2008

Kremlin Rules

An Investment Gets Trapped in Kremlin’s Vise

By CLIFFORD J. LEVY

MOSCOW – William F. Browder was one of the most prominent foreign investors here, a corporate provocateur who brought the tactics of Wall Street shareholder activists to the free-for-all of post-Soviet capitalism. Until, that is, the Kremlin expelled him in 2005.

Mr. Browder then focused on protecting his billions of dollars of stakes in major Kremlin-controlled companies, like Gazprom, and on fighting to return to a land where he had deep and unusual family ties. So when he ran into Dmitri A. Medvedev, the country’s future president, at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, he saw his chance.

In a brief conversation at a dinner at the Swiss resort, he pressed Mr. Medvedev for help in regaining his Russian visa. Mr. Medvedev, then a top aide to President Vladimir V. Putin, agreed to pass along his request.

A short time later, Mr. Browder’s office received a phone call from a senior Moscow police official, who said he had learned of Mr. Browder’s new visa application and might be able to help.

”My answer will depend on how you behave, what you provide, and so on,” the official said, according to a recording of the call supplied by Mr. Browder. ”The sooner we meet and you provide what is necessary, the sooner your problems will disappear.”

Mr. Browder’s problems, in fact, were just beginning.

The phone call was one move in a wide-ranging offensive by Russian law enforcement that exposed Mr. Browder to the kind of crippling investigations that Kremlin critics have regularly endured under Mr. Putin. It appeared that the ultimate goal was not only to seize Mr. Browder’s investment empire, but also to make him an example of what happens to those who do not toe the government’s line.

His downfall offers a study in how the Kremlin wields power in the Putin era. The rule of law is subject to its wishes, and those out of favor are easy prey.

Mr. Browder’s case points to the official corruption that afflicts Russia, and the Kremlin’s unwillingness to adopt serious measures to combat it by bolstering the independence of the police and the courts. The Kremlin may be reluctant to do so because it wants Russia‘s wealth to accrue to those loyal to the leadership.

Until his visa was canceled and he moved his operations to London, Mr. Browder cut a colorful figure in Russia, a foreign version of the Russian oligarchs who earned their fortunes in the mass privatization after the fall of the Soviet Union. He courted publicity, and his background made a good story: he is the grandson of Earl Browder, a leader of the American Communist Party in the 1930s. He often said that, not unlike Russia itself, he rebelled by becoming a capitalist.

He arrived in Russia in 1996 after a stint in London as an investment banker, and quickly saw opportunities. Russia’s economy was undergoing colossal changes, and Mr. Browder positioned his company, Hermitage Capital, as a vehicle for Western investors to get a piece of the action.

After Mr. Putin became president in 2000, Mr. Browder became a vocal supporter of the Kremlin, saying that Russia needed an authoritarian leader to establish order and calling Mr. Putin his ”biggest ally” in Hermitage’s effort to reform big business. Mr. Browder thrived, and the funds managed by Hermitage grew to more than $4 billion.

Mr. Browder does not know exactly why the Kremlin turned against him. But the Kremlin was consolidating control over prized companies like Gazprom and appeared to be chafing at criticism from outside shareholders.

Once things went bad, Mr. Browder had no recourse. The police confiscated vital documents from his lawyer’s office in Moscow. He discovered that his holding companies had been stolen from him and re-registered in the name of a convicted murderer in a provincial city.

Whoever was behind the scheme took over much of Mr. Browder’s corporate structure in Russia, but failed to get at his investors’ money. Even so, in recent weeks, Mr. Browder said he had learned that his former holding companies had been used to embezzle $230 million from the Russian treasury.

Läs även andra bloggares åsikter om http://bloggar.se/om/Fri-+och+r%E4ttigheter” rel=”tag”>Fri- och rättigheter</a>, <a href=”http://bloggar.se/om/Yttrandefrihet.” rel=”tag”>Yttrandefrihet.</a>

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