Bill Browder returns with a gripping non-fiction thriller - Putin's nemesis.
By Jacob Mawela.
Whilst South Africa's ever crazy news cycle has been dominated by debate second guessing whether its government will carry out a warrant of arrest for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during the BRICS summit in August, a book reading more akin to a movie thriller than a non-fiction it actually is, titled, Freezing Order – dropped at the beginning of April.
It's British-based author, Bill Browder has written his way into making himself Putin's number one enemy by exposing the statesman's campaign to steal and launder hundreds of billions of dollars and kill anyone who stands in his way.
The bully Browder chronicles is consistent with a pattern wrought by the Kremlin honcho back in 2005 regarding two incidents involving him brazenly stealing a ring of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft during a visit in Saint Petersburg and another in which he left the Guggenheim Museum with a vodka-filled glass sculpture shaped like an AK47 rifle. Kraft had shown Putin the ring after the latter had made a joke about how he "could kill someone with this ring" – with the Russian duly putting the American’s possession in his pocket and leaving the room with three bodyguards. With the Kalashnikov artefact - no one had the courage to stop him.
Browder's latest offering has been welcomed with superlatives by critics and described as a breakneck financial thriller by the Daily Telegraph – and was triggered by the death of the author's young Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, in a Moscow prison.
After that, Browder made it his life's mission to go after his killers and make sure they faced justice. The first step of that mission was to uncover who was behind the $230 million tax refund scheme that Magnitsky was killed over. As Browder and his team tracked the money as it flowed out of Russia through the Baltics and Cyprus and on to Western Europe and the Americas, they were shocked to discover that Vladimir Putin himself was a beneficiary of the crime.
As law enforcement agencies began freezing the money, Putin retaliated. He and his cronies set up honey traps, hired process servers to chase Browder through cities, murdered more of his Russian allies, and enlisted some of the top lawyers and politicians in America to bring him down. Putin will stop at nothing to protect his money. As Freezing Order reveals, it was Browder's campaign to expose Putin's corruption that prompted Russia's intervention in the 2016 US presidential election.
Freezing Order: A True Story of Russian Money Laundering, State-Sponsored Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin's Wrath by Bill Browder is published by Simon & Schuster and distributed locally by Jonathan Ball Publishers, retails for R260 and is available at reputable bookstores nationwide.