The Russian President may be the world's richest man, according to head of the country's former largest foreign investor.
Bill Browder went from being Russia's largest foreign investor to be blacklisted in the country. The commander of Hermitage Capital Management was once President Putin's business partner until he was deported in 2005 and declared a 'threat to national security. "
- The first 8-10 years of Putin's reign was about to steal as much as he could. Some people, including myself, think he is the world's richest man, or one of the world's richest men, with several hundred billion US dollars stolen from Russia, says Browder in an interview with CNN.
Browder writes about his experiences in the new book "Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice." Financier says he believes Putin's overall private resources amounting to 200 billion dollars.
- All the money is in real estate, Swiss bank accounts, stocks and funds, he says. Browder says he was expelled from Russia and declared a threat to national security after having lived in the country for ten years and been Putin's business partner.
- That I did not understand at the time, but which has been revealed to me since, is that Putin was not above this. He was deeply involved, and it's not as if he restrained the oligarchs, he was even the biggest oligarch.
Browder explains in the CNN interview that he acted as a "share activist."
- We investigated how the oligarchs and government officials stole from the companies we invested in, and shared information with international media. In about four years this approach worked, since my interests coincided with Putin's.
- Every time we announced a scandal, Putin went in and cleared it up. And the company's profit increased. It felt good, because I both made money and did something good meanwhile.
- My activism became very inconvenient, as I no longer went after Putin's enemies but by his own economic interests.
Browder says his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was killed in custody because he had revealed corruption among Russian authorities.
Browder believes there is a certain probability that Russia collapses under Putin's leadership, but think it's just as likely that he remain in power.
- One has the scenarios of Ukraine / Georgia / Kyrgyzstan, where the people finally say, why do we allow this man to ruin everyone's life?
- Or it could be that some members of the army or the police decides a coup. I do not know.
- But in the meantime, while he is still in power, he will continue to drive Russia into the ditch and create a number of problems for the West, Browder told CNN.
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