Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath

Bill Browder. Simon & Schuster, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982153-28-1

Financier and political activist Browder returns with a riveting follow-up to his bestseller Red Notice, which recounted how his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was “taken hostage by corrupt Russian officials and ultimately killed in jail” for exposing a $230 million tax fraud scheme. Through impressive financial sleuthing and with the help of a Barron’s reporter, a Russian whistleblower (who was later poisoned), an East European watchdog, and others, Browder—who managed a hedge fund in Russia worth $4.5 billion from 1996 until 2005, when Putin expelled him as a threat to national security—traces the dirty money trail from bank accounts in the Baltics and Cyprus to posh real estate in Manhattan. His goal is to persuade European and American political leaders and bank chiefs to freeze Russian assets and to adopt measures like the 2016 Magnitsky Act, but as his successes mount, so does Russian pushback. Browder documents threatening encounters with lawyers, mobsters, and intelligence agents; the Kremlin disinformation campaign that accused him of stealing the $230 million; and his hiring of bodyguards and wielding of social media to protect himself and his family. Though some of the financial and legal matters are hard to grasp, this is an eye-opening exposé of the lengths Putin’s cronies will go to hide their crimes and punish their accusers. (Apr.)
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