Fallen investor spoils Russia show for investors

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DAVOS – A former big investor in Russia, who accuses the government of stealing his firms and killing his lawyer, spoiled on Thursday a Russian show in Davos meant to woo investors. Bill Browder, who had around $4 billion invested in Russia through his Hermitage fund, says he had to flee Russia after accusing officials of corruption and saw some of his firms being stolen from him by Interior Ministry officials.
One of his lawyers, Sergei Magnitsky, died in jail last year from what Browder says was torture. The case has shaken investor confidence and draw criticism from Western organisations and governments. President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation in the case, fired several officials but Browder says the main culprits remain unpunished. “The president of the country called for an investigation into the people who killed my lawyer,” Browder told a panel chaired by Russia’s first deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and a hall packed with Western executives.
“One year after the investigation people who killed the lawyer have been promoted higher by state orders… My question to you, Igor, is what will prevent other investors to have the same experience after my experience in Russia,” he said at the discussion, entitled “Russia’s Next Steps to Modernisation”.
The remarks came in sharp contrast to praise for Russia from top global CEOs, including PepsiCo. Most CEOs, whose companies have large deals and ventures in Russia, spoke in very gentle terms about the need for increased transparency and barely mentioned corruption and the rule of law, often named by other investors as Russia’s main problems.