This book is soooo good I couldn’t help myself I just kept typing… (sorry) —>.
For some reason I thought this book was about Antarctica and a spy mission down there. Ha and LOL! I really should have taken a look at the subtitle. But it was on that very good sale !!!!
Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath
by Bill Browder
April 2022 – (336 pages K)
Read by Adam Grupper 10h 29m
Rating: 9.75 / memoir-pol activist
It has an excellent opening. In the spring of 2018, UK-American businessman Bill Browder was arrested for espionage just after he checked into his his hotel in Spain. He was there to give testimony against Russian criminals, but it was those same Russian criminals who ordered his arrest as he arrived. He was freed thanks to a covertly sent Twitter post getting the attention of many people who contacted many other people and agencies who put pressure on the Madrid police department and …”Oops.”
That sounds like the opening to a lightly humorous spy novel, but this tale is real. Real scary and in some places, a real thriller. The beat goes on.
The author – this is a memoir – is Bill Browder, an American businessman now from the UK with a very lucrative investment business in Russia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Browder
I went into this book cold – cold as Antarctica. I had no real background knowledge at all except for a few little mentions of various things on TV, but the book reads like a thriller novel. I just had to remember that it’s actually a memoir and maybe get some background from Wiki or something.
At some point not too far in I actually read the subtitle. I’m listening to this book so unless I actually look for it, I might miss it. Yes, it’s about “Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath.”
“Freezing Order: A legal procedure that prevents a defendant from moving their assets beyond the reach of a court.” – That’s the Epigraph in the book.
What’s it about? Well, it gets complicated so I had to look up some stuff as I went along.
In the US: “The original Magnitsky Act of 2012 was expanded in 2016 into a more general law authorizing the US government to sanction those found to be human rights offenders or those involved in significant corruption, to freeze their assets, and to ban them from entering the US.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnitsky_legislation. The US passed this in 2012 and upgraded it in 2016.
Bill Browder was instrumental in getting this legislation passed and upgraded. (His first book, Red Notice, was published in 2016.). Sergei Magnitsky was his business partner and good friend until he was arrested and murdered in his Russian jail cell. (He exposed corruption in Russian corporations.) That’s when Browder got involved and in trouble with Putin.
Magnitsky was one of the “good guys” more than a decade ago, exposing corruption and working for human rights. He was no fan of Putin, but he lived in Russia/Ukraine. I think that’s the story of Red Notice (2015) but the original copyright date of this book is 2022 which tells me it’s going to be what’s happened since 2015 and there is a LOT more current stuff to tell.
By the time he was writing this book he’d been hunted by Putin for years (decades?) for tax fraud and finance activism and his involvement his Hermitage Investment Company which had (has) an office in Moscow. Putin publicly declared Bowder a “national threat” in 2005 and their offices in Moscow were raided in 2007. No financial institutions in Russia were safe from the corruption – outright theft and siphoning of funds to other enterprises.
By about 2/3rds of the way into the book we’re up to Trump getting elected and yes (!) I absolutely do remember when Junior and Bro Eric were talking to some visitors and then the press about “Russian adoptions,” the code name for the Magnitsky Act (ha!)
The big deal is that the Russians were accusing Browder and Magnitsky of scamming Russia for $250 million tax dollars – that was the first of the legal charges.. What Magnitsky and Browder claimed (and proved) was that they, themselves, had been scammed of those dollars and the money had been laundered through a very complex series of re-investments both at home and abroad. (9 volumes at 300+ pages each of legal records.)
This is a great book covering Browder as he avoids arrest by Russian operatives and manages to testify before Congress, speaks to various groups, and conducts activist business as well as his own.
As for seeing the big picture and understanding the world today try reading a couple of insightful spy or mystery novels including Bill Browder’s Red Notice and Bill Fairclough’s Beyond Enkription. If you are clever enough (which we have no reason to doubt!) you will start dissecting and solving problems in ways you never dreamt of before.
Mystery novels cover all sorts of evils including thrillers from the espionage genre such as those down to earth, raw and noir, often curious fact based Cold War thrillers you can never put down. I refer to Bill Browder’s Red Notice, Bill Fairclough’s Beyond Enkription in The Burlington Files series and Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor. The latter was lauded by none other than John le Carré as “the best true spy story I have ever read”.
Incidentally, if you don’t find these mysterious then MI6 or the CIA may want to hire you to solve some of their mysteries. After all, the most famous of all real spies, Oleg Gordievsky who is held responsible for collapsing the Berlin Wall, was not only Macintyre’s “Spy and Traitor” but also an acquaintance of Fairclough’s handler. Maybe that’s why Beyond Enkription is considered to be compulsory reading for espionage aficionados.
Do look up the authors or books mentioned on Amazon, Google The Burlington Files or visit https://theburlingtonfiles.org and read Beyond Enkription.
Oh thank you MI6 for the suggestions. I’d been tentatively planning to get Red Notice because Freezing Order was so good – both the story and the writing. I’ve read some Le Carre and a few other good miscellaneous spy novels but not Bill Fairclough or Ben Macintyre. I’m looking forward to them.
They are great reads – Ben’s Spy & Traitor is excellent and Bill’s Beyond Enkription is raw, noir and unlike anything you’ll ever see again! See https://theburlingtonfiles.org/#/reviews.