The financial thriller book category just met its match in “Red Notice,” William F. Browder's non-fiction account of murder and corruption in Russia.
Mr. Browder, an American-born hedge fund manager, recounts his experience as an investor in Russia and the harrowing journey to his unsought role as a human rights activist.
Mr. Browder, CEO, co-founded emerging and frontier markets long/short equity hedge fund manager Hermitage Capital Management Ltd., London, in 1996. He lived in Moscow for a number of years and over time, his vocal anti-corruption and shareholder activism campaigns riled locals. In 2005, he was expelled from Russia by President Vladimir Putin, who described Mr. Browder as a national security threat.
Even after he moved to London, Russian officials continued their harassment, Mr. Browder said in the book: Law enforcement officers raided Hermitage's Moscow office in 2007, taking documents that enabled them to perpetrate a $230 million tax fraud involving the money manager.
Hermitage's Russian attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, investigated and exposed the crime and testified against the government officials. He was subsequently arrested, detained and, in 2009, died in prison under suspicious circumstances from an apparent beating, Mr. Browder wrote.
Mr. Magnitsky's death caused “pain ... that was physical, as if someone were plunging a knife right through my gut,” Mr. Browder said in the book.
Mr. Browder vowed to “do whatever it took to get justice for Sergei” and now is actively trying to bring Mr. Magnitsky's alleged killers to account through international channels. For example, he was key in persuading Congress in 2012 to pass the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which imposes visa sanctions and asset freezes on those allegedly involved in Mr. Magnitsky's death. A global version of the act that would punish human rights violators has been introduced in Congress.
Mr. Browder said in an e-mail that he returned money to Hermitage's external investors early last year and now concentrates on managing his own wealth and running the Magnitsky justice campaign.