The Magnitsky Myth & Other Keys
to the Geopolitical Hoax of the Century
"Activism" Is the New "Refuge of the Scoundrel"
"The William J. Clinton Foundation is one of the big beneficiaries of Chris Hohn’s largesse"
The December 29, 2017 Verdict of Presiding Judge D.S. Gordeyev, Tverskoy District Court of Moscow, (explored here on the Index page), contains a batch of names well-familiar to those who research/investigate the Hermitage/Magnitsky scam. Along with William Felix Browder and Ivan Sergeyevich Cherkasov, the players convicted of multi-million-dollar tax-evasion and bankruptcy fraud (sentenced to lengthy jail terms and barred from doing business in Russia for three years), we find Andrey (Andrei) Andreyevich Sandakov (Firestone Duncan partner/manager at the time of the crimes), Sergei Leonedovich Magnitsky (Firestone Duncan accountant/auditor), Eduard Mansurovich Khairetdinov (Hermitage/HSBC lawyer) and Jamison (Jamie) Reed Firestone (Firestone Duncan founder+) among others.
Like the Hermitage group's "fixer" Yakir (Jakir) Daniel Sha'ashoua (various spellings), one party who is rarely, if ever, mentioned when this case of corporate criminality is discussed in the West is the lone British Knight in the bunch. Not Sir Elton. Nor Sir Paul. Meet Sir Chris.
"Over the long term I am an unbelievable money-maker", says Chris Anthony Hohn, a major financial backer of "Extinction Rebellion". Sir Chris' relationship to career conman Bill Browder and team, and role(s) of Hohn and The Children's Investment (TCI) Fund entities in Hermitage's illegal share purchase, tax-evasion+ schemes offshore in Russia, Kalmykia, Cyprus+ need be explained.
Christopher Anthony Hohn, (or Cooper-Hohn before a much-publicized 2014 divorce case heard by The Honourable Mrs. Justice Roberts in London's High Court), is described in the mainstream as a philanthropist, "activist", hedge-fund manager. In January 1996, the British-born Hohn began managing a fund for Perry Capital in New York – at a starting salary of US $70,000 per annum. American Jamie Cooper, (the couple had met while attending Harvard University), made approx. US $100,000 annually as Associate Director of the Washington, DC-based Center for Policy Alternatives. (Forbes magazine currently pegs Hohn's "Real Time Net Worth" now at US $3.1 billion.)
In Autumn of 1998 the Cooper-Hohns relocated to the United Kingdom. "In 2003, the husband left Perry Capital in order to set up The Children’s Investment Fund. TCI was formally launched at the beginning of January 2004 with investments of $500 million then under management." (Until 2013, this hedge fund reportedly donated huge sums to a charity called "The Children's Investment Fund Foundation" run by Jamie Cooper-Hohn. CIFF's incorporated on February 8, 2002 as The C-H Foundation and registered as a charity on March 12, 2002.)
Within months of TCI Master Fund's launch, court records show, Hohn, (appearing as "Hon" in the 84-page English translation from the Russian language), and TCI entities began to figure in key arrangements and/or transactions+ of an Hermitage/HSBC+ offshore financial scam – forming part of what's emerging now as the geopolitical hoax of this century, elements, for ease of description, found under the banner of the Magnitsky myth.
At the time Hohn first appears in the court record's chronology, American-turned-British conman Bill Browder, along with accountant/auditor Sergei Magnitsky and others in Hermitage Capital networks were engaged in a range of criminal activities – fraudulently claiming multi-million dollar tax benefits through fabricated claims of hiring Afghan war veterans and other disabled persons in Kalmykia as expert "financial analysts", making and concealing large-scale, illicit, share purchases of such companies as Russian energy giant RAO Gazprom through a latticework of entities established in Russia, Cyprus and elsewhere "offshore", facilitating schemes of tax-evasion and the plundering of Russia's resources+ as carried out by predators from, both, West and East+ after the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.
Above and below – excerpts of the December 29, 2017 criminal convictions of Hermitage Capital's Bill Browder and Ivan Cherkasov detailing some of the involvement of Chris Hohn and TCI fund entities in transaction+. Click here to download and read the full Verdict.
In an effort to protect against foreign takeover of Russia's resources, Gazprom's charter and a 1997 Presidential decree banned direct share purchases in the company by foreigners, including foreign companies and investment funds. (Foreign ownership was restricted to ADRs or American Depository Receipts issued against a capped limit of company stock, and priced higher per share than for domestic purchases.) To circumvent these legal safeguards, and to round up large shareholdings at prices only available to locals, the Hermitage players established an inventory of Russian shells, and offshore entities, including companies set-up in the autonomous Republic of Kalmykia, offshore Cyprus and beyond, through which it was possible to conceal and redistribute share-ownership, trading profits, and, to cheat on taxes on a massive scale.
The inimitable American investigative journalist Lucy Komisar details, in clearly understandable fashion, how this worked in practice, in a recent article focusing on Bill Browder and a trio of American partners, the enormously wealthy Ziff brothers, Robert, Dirk and Daniel, who got in on the scheme around 2000 – Browder's "golden" mentor and major financial backer Edmond Safra exiting via a bizarre death scene in Monaco in 1999: "On Fault Lines: How Ziff Brothers participated in Browder's illegal Russian Gazprom buys & tax evasion. (click to read)"
l-r: Robert, Dirk and Daniel Ziff, heirs of an American media/publishing pioneer, are implicated in Bill Browder et al's illegal share purchases and profiteering in Russia's RAO Gazprom – click here and/or the billionaire triptych above for the scoop In a ranking of "America's Richest Families" Forbes magazine pegged the Ziffs at #14 with a net worth of US $14.4 billion as at 06/29/2016.
The Ziffs, reported beneficiaries of illegal schemes of career conman Bill Browder et al, are major donors to US political parties – favouring what's known in America as the Democratic Party, but, as seen from the data above, they're not averse to hedging via lesser contributions to the Republican Party. Forbes magazine's recent "Here Are The Billionaires Backing..." series focuses on Democratic 2020 candidates. Daniel Ziff, Dirk & Natasha Ziff have donated directly to one candidate, giving, (albeit, modestly eg. $2,800 and $5,600 respectively), to the campaign of amorphous "Mayor Pete" Buttigieg. Dirk and Natasha have given substantially to the DNC Services Corp./Democratic National Committee – US $678,000. Michelle Locher, spouse of Robert Ziff, has donated $2,800 to each of Minnesota Senator & former prosecutor Amy Klobuchar and John Hickenlooper (the latter, a geologist + former Governor of Colorado, has since dropped out of the race). Ziff Brothers Investments has donated US $50,400 to the "Big Sky Values PAC" of Montana Governor Steve Bullock and US $6,600 directly to Bullock who's billed as an "Anti-Corruption Crusader".
Into a matrix of Hermitage/HSBC interlaced entities which saw entry of the Ziff brothers in or about the year 2000, one finds Chris Hohn and TCI entities popping up by mid-2004. (Hohn's Knighted Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George - KCMG, entering this "order of chivalry" during Queen Elizabeth II's "Birthday Honours" in June 2014.)
Minutes of a constituent meeting dated March 12, 2004 record the creation of Pifagor Investments LLC with shares therein held 99.9% by TCI Cyprus Holding LTD., a company soon-to-be registered offshore in the Republic of Cyprus (on April 26, 2004) and 0.1% by Jamie Firestone (of Firestone Duncan/FD Advisory). At a General Meeting of April 1, 2004 Timoleon LLC, controlled by Bill Browder, gained a 51% stake in Pifagor – resulting in TCI Cyprus Holding LTD. then holding a 48.951% stake and Firestone's share reduced to 0.049%.
Pifagor Investments (Taxpayer’s ID 7710534024, first registered at: Moscow, Staropimenovsky Lane, 13, block 2, 6th floor), "carried out transactions for purchase and sale of Gazprom shares with the (Hermitage/HSBC) Fund’s money." On July 2, 2004, Christopher Anthony Hohn replaced Jamie Firestone as Director General of Pifagor Investments LLC.
On July 2, 2004, Chris Hohn was appointed Director General of Browder-controlled Timoleon LLC. Investigators in the criminal case of Hermitage's Browder and Cherkasov found another Cyprus entity, Rivercanal Holdings Limited, was established on March 04, 2005 by The Children's Investment Master Fund and the TCIF Blue Fund, two funds established in the Cayman Islands, managed (officially) by Hohn's TCI. Rivercanal was registered on April 12, 2005.
"For further implementation of the criminal plan of W.F. Browder, I.S. Cherkasov and other unidentified persons, the limited liability companies actually managed by them for the benefit of the Hermitage Fund and HSBC banking group acquired ordinary registered uncertified shares of RAO Gazprom. Entities employed in the illicit Gazprom share scheme included: Kameya LLC (during the period of 1997 to 2005 it acquired 201,031,501 shares); Makhaon LLC (which scooped up 23,703,324 shares in 2005); Parfenion LLC (in 2005 – 72,676,695 shares); and Riland LLC (during the period of 1996 to 2005 – 40,385,250 shares).
For its part in the scheme, Pifagor Investments LLC was found to have socked away "during the period of 2004 to 2005 – 57,043,172 shares".
"Subsequently, W.F. Browder, I.S. Cherkasov and other unidentified persons intended to arrange for the sale of shares, and to direct the proceeds from that sale in the form of dividends to the accounts of Cyprus offshore companies controlled by them.
At the end of December 2005 – six weeks after Bill Browder's barred from entering Russia as a risk to national security – Pifagor and Timoleon agreed to merge. Through this arrangement, (by March 9, 2006), TCI Cyprus Holding LTD. managed by Browder, Cherkasov "and other unidentified persons for the benefit of the HSBC banking group" became the sole shareholder of Pifagor Investments LLC."
Liquidating the Gazprom share assets followed a similar pattern with each of the LLCs. Minutes of the general meeting of shareholders of Pifagor Investments LLC, dated December 29, 2005, record that "the Director General of Timoleon LLC, Christopher Antony Hohn, and the representative of Cyprus offshore company TCI Cyprus Holding LTD., L.A. Guzheva approved the sale by Pifagor Investments LLC of 57,043,172 ordinary shares of RAO Gazprom to Cyprus offshore company Rivercanal Holdings Limited for the total amount of 10,724,116,336 rubles".
A sale and purchase agreement for the sale by Pifagor of Gazprom shares to Rivercanal – which had been established earlier in 2005 by The Children's Investment Master Fund and TCIF Blue Fund – was "dated December 29, 2005, under which Christopher Antony Hohn, as the Director General of Pifagor Investments LLC, sold 57,043,172 shares of RAO Gazprom to Cyprus offshore company Rivercanal Holdings Limited represented by its director – foreign company Pimiento Limited, on whose behalf the contract was signed by Christiane Michaelides and Maria Kiriakou, for the amount of 10,724,116,336 rubles." (A transaction of some US $375 - $400 million based on currency exchange rates during this window.)
"On September 25, 2006, employees of Firestone Duncan with the knowledge of W.F. Browder, I.S. Cherkasov and other unidentified persons prepared an additional agreement to the sale and purchase agreement of December 29, 2005, according to which Rivercanal Holdings Limited was to pay to Pifagor Investments LLC the total value of the shares it purchased, until December 31, 2006." Pursuant to this agreement, monies flowed out of Rivercanal's bank account to Pifagor from March 27, 2006 through September 21, 2007.
Another stage in the siphoning's evident in the execution of a decision dated December 15, 2006 ("of the sole participant of Pifagor Investments - Cyprus offshore company TCI Cyprus Holding LTD.") in which the profit of Pifagor was to be distributed in the form of dividends of TCI Cyprus Holding LTD.
More detail is, naturally, contained in court documentation re the 2017 criminal convictions of Bill Browder and Ivan Cherkasov. (Browder's convicted, as well, in 2013, on July 11, for still other crimes.) Such manoeuvres as those illustrated above are repeated, using shell entities+, via the group's other LLCs and offshore+ conduits. The end result being the Hermitage players/partners extracted the loot – principals Browder and Cherkasov along with any aiders and abettors incl. unindicted co-conspirators, accomplices and/or accessories. Since 2007, Browder and co. have cooked up a rotating menu of porkies to mask their crimes and to continue doing harm.
The November 2009 death-in-prison of Sergei Magnitsky, an accomplice and a victim, to Hermitage operators in such illegal schemes, has been exploited shamelessly by Browder and team. The global Magnitsky myth, and attendant legislation based on falsehoods, is now forged into a giant propaganda tool to protect criminals Browder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky of Bank Menatep and Yukos notoriety et al and to serve geopolitical agendas of players in our Western states.
The Children's Investment Master Fund (TCIMF) and the TCIF Blue Fund (TCIBF), two funds established in the Cayman Islands and managed by The Children's Investment Fund Management (UK) LLP (TCI), according to court records, established "offshore" entities in the Republic of Cyprus, playing key roles in criminal machinations of career conman Bill Browder, Hermitage COO Ivan Cherkasov and "other unidentified persons". Showing a breadth of activities, Christopher, (now 'Sir' Chris), Hohn's TCIMF and TCIBF invested heavily in Hong Kong via The Link REIT, also involving HSBC, around the same time as the Hermitage Gazprom+ scheming.
Journalist Lucy Komisar, on the front-lines of truth-telling since 1960s Mississippi, has previously told the Ziff-Hermitage-Gazprom+ story – various aspects are chronicled in such articles as: What Paul Manafort's Trump Tower notes meanManafort and Mueller Report gets Trump Tower Meeting all wrong; Ignores facts and promotes the Browder Hoax Komisar, a Gerald Loeb Award-winner (America's top recognition for financial journalism), along with other journos, film-makers, bloggers+ cited on these pages valiantly carry forward the purpose and traditions of journalism+ to tell the truth.
RAID (Rights and Accountability in Development), the ambitious and effective registered UK charity and limited company (as of 2013) which began in 1998 as a pioneering research project at the University of Oxford has led in exposing some corrupt Africa-targeted operations of Och-Ziff, (in full, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group), an asset management outfit founded in New York in 1994 by Daniel Och, ex-Goldman Sachs Head of Proprietary Trading (Equities), bankrolled by the Ziff family – Robert, Dirk and Daniel managing their holdings via Ziff Brothers Investments. Och-Ziff's London office opened in 1998. (After its original principals were found to have feet of clay, in late 2019 Och-Ziff's renamed Sculptor Capital Management.)
Two decades later, "International Anti-Corruption Day" in 2018, in commenting that the London Stock Exchange "is willing to do very little to prevent corrupt transactions on AIM", (the LSE's junior Alternate Investment Market), RAID's able to reference its deep research into those activities which led US government regulators to impose penalties totalling over US $400 million, (comprising disgorgement, fines+), against Och-Ziff. On September 29, 2016, The United States Department of Justice first announced a three-year DPA (Deferred Prosecution Agreement) against Och-Ziff and a wholly-owned subsidiary, OZ Africa Management GP LLC.
"In its pursuit of profits, Och-Ziff and its agents paid millions in bribes to high-level officials across Africa," noted the DoJ in a press release. "Och-Ziff, one of the largest hedge funds, positioned itself to profit from the corruption that is sadly endemic in certain parts of Africa, including in Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and Niger. Despite knowing that bribes were being paid to senior government officials, Och-Ziff repeatedly funded corrupt transactions."
Click on the image above to download/read the full text of the Och-Ziff (now Sculptor Capital) three-year Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA signed-off on 29.09.2016). Months prior to this American DPA's release, in an April 15, 2016 article, "Panama, Congo, Zimbabwe, London, New York: the vultures come home to roost", RAID noted: "It is shameful and embarrassing for accountability in this country that we in the UK are reliant upon scraps from the US table to even begin to fathom how a UK company was allowed to do a deal with a murderous regime, to the ultimate advantage of a Mugabe crony needing to settle a fine for a fraud, all seemingly with the approval of the UK government."
In a special report, OCH-ZIFF, MUGABE's "BAGMEN" AND THE UNDERPRICING OF AFRICAN ASSETS: A New York hedge fund's record of questionable African Investments", published in April 2014, RAID digs into those areas of physically-distant operations we rarely hear about from our traditional press – which may lionize today's profitable money-managers and focus on a surface numbers-game rather than reveal what lies beneath, and what may be the true, global, cost of a fund's rates of return etc. All too-often there are forgotten victims of such schemes – from Kalmykia to the Congo, and 'ere else.
In contrast, RAID lifted a cover on Och-Ziff dealings, building upon and expanding research it had carried out and published online in July 2013, and which had examined one particular corrupt deal, as it explains:
"In August 2012, the Mail & Guardian, the leading South African newspaper, revealed how a $100 million loan to the (President Robert) Mugabe regime was part of a 2008 deal by UK-registered Central African Mining and Exploration Company plc (‘CAMEC’) to acquire Zimbabwean platinum assets. Finance for this transfer originated with a subsidiary of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC (‘Och-Ziff’), a US hedge fund. The money from the platinum deal was used by the Mugabe regime to unleash a campaign of violence and overturn the result of the 2008 elections."
Sidebar (above) on Och-Ziff's CAMEC (Central African Mining and Exploration Company plc) deal from RAID's special 55-page report on the outfit's practices – read the full 2014 study here - click on the text image above and/or the special-report cover-page image below:
RAID followed up its 2014 special report on Och-Ziff, (now called Sculptor Capital), with a 71-page study, 'Bribery in its purest form': Och-Ziff, asset laundering and the London Connection – click hear to download/read this full report. It takes a still-closer look at the mechanisms and players in this particular circle of corruption, centred on the Democratic Republic of Congo and exploring the roles of such other key players as Och-Ziff's DRC partner, Dan Gertler, an Israeli businessman who's extracted a massive fortune from Africa – via copper, diamond-dealing+.
Gertler's Global Enterprises Corporate (GEC), predecessor to LSE-listed Nikanor plc, was formed in March 2004 in partnership with Beny Steinmetz Global. Gertler's partner in GEC, Beny Steinmetz's identified by "The Africa Report" in 2012 as one of four Israeli "diamond oligarchs". Gertler & Steinmetz are joined in that company by Lev Leviev and Arcadi Aleksandrovich Gaydamak. Within months of its formation, GEC had an agreement with the DRC's state-owned Gecamines, (ratified by Presidential decree on October 13, 2005), to rehabilitate and operate giant copper and cobalt mines. In 2007 the World Bank would conclude the contracts had been approved with "a complete lack of transparency".
Beny Steinmetz, referenced on other pages of this "J'Accuse News" site, together with the late Lebanese banker Edmond Safra, bankrolled the establishment of Hermitage Capital. Steinmetz and Safra bundled together US $25 million and, with conman Browder up-front, launched Hermitage in Moscow in 1996.
Future chronicles introduce:
War-criminal (to many), Henry Kissinger; dubious oligarchs of numerous nationalities (some are gone and some are living); a British Prince and Princess ("The Pauper Prince" and "Princess Pushy" to a few in the press); an American railroad giant, CSX Corp. (and a judge with some pointed words re Chris Hohn's lack of credibility); a beleaguered football club on England's South coast, Portsmouth FC ("Pompey" to many ); TCI "long" profits in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (post phone-hacking and some of many other abuses becoming public); Och-Ziff + TCI "short" profits in South African retailer Steinhoff International (amid news of some accounting irregularities); and much more for all as we explore the sort of world, (and carnie capitalism of the 'elite'), in wbich the Magnitsky myth is manufactured.
NB For the full transcript of Bill Browder's examination
(15.04.2015) under-oath which debunks the myths – click
on the thumbnail below:
NB For the full transcript of Bill Browder's examination (15.04.2015) under-oath which debunks the myths – click on the thumbnail below:
Under-oath #5 – Text-book
examination of a person lacking in facts and integrity. Career
conman William Felix Browder without cover in SDNY.
Under-oath #5 – Text-book examination of a person lacking in facts and integrity. Career conman William Felix Browder without cover in SDNY.