Who is Bill Browder?
William Felix Browder was born on 23 April 1964, in Chicago, Illinois USA, and is an economist as well as a financier, best known for being the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was previously the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia. In 2005, he was banned from entering Russia as a threat to national security, following his exposure of corruption in the country. He testified to the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Russia’s alleged interference during the 2016 US presidential elections.
The Net Worth of Bill Browder
How rich is Bill Browder? As of early-2019, sources estimate a net worth that is at $4.3 million, earned largely through a successful career in investing, including a significant amount from his time in Russia, and later after his return to the US. As he continues his endeavors, it is expected that his wealth will also continue to increase.
Early Life and Education
Bill is the son of mathematics prodigy Felix Browder, who entered MIT at 16 years of age, completed his bachelor’s degree in two years, and was awarded a PhD from Princeton at the age of 20. He later became a part of Brandeis University, and went on to chair the University of Chicago mathematics department. He was renowned in the field of non-linear functional analysis, and was awarded a National Medal of Science.
Bill grew up with a brother Tom, who also finished school early and became a leading particle physicist. Bill on the other hand enrolled into the University of Colorado, Boulder but later transferred to the University of Chicago, where he completed a degree an economics. He then enrolled at Stanford Business School to complete an MBA, and in 1989 joined the financial industry.
Browder founded Hermitage Capital Management in 1996 for the purpose of investing an initial seed capital of $25 million in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. Even during the Russian financial crisis two years later, he continued to commit to the mission and became a shareholder in the Russian giant Gazprom, after which he exposed corruption and corporate malfeasance during this time. He also gave up his US citizenship and became a British citizen to avoid paying US taxes on foreign investments.
In 1999, one of his investments, Avisma, filed a lawsuit against him due to allegedly siphoning company assets onto offshore accounts. Around this time, Hermitage had become one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, gaining millions through fund management. However, in 2005 after 10 years of business in the country, he was blacklisted and labeled as a threat to national security by the Russian government. Over the next two years, associates and relatives of associates became victims of crimes, including robberies and beatings while police officers went to the office of Hermitage to confiscate computers as well as documents. People who protested against the illegal search were beaten – lawyers insisted that the actions were bogus.
The Magnitsky Act
In 2008, Hermitage auditor Sergei Magnitsky was arrested and charged with the very tax evasion he was investigating. He was put into 11 months of detention, and died of disease apparently due to poor medical treatment. His death aroused international outrage, and later the Magnitsky Act was signed by President Barack Obama which denied individuals involved with the Magnitsky affair, primarily Russians, entry to the US or use of the banking system.
In 2013, both Bill and Magnitsky were tried for evading $16.8 million in taxes in Russia. He was also charged with trying to gain access to Gazprom financial reports, and seeking influence in the company. He defended himself by saying that he was doing so to expose fraud going on in the company. The entire issue provoked publications that described the trial as a human rights violation, but Bill was convicted in absentia by a criminal court in Moscow, and sentenced to nine years jail, with Russia asking Interpol to issue an arrest warrant, but rejected by Interpol as it was a predominantly political issue. He was later arrested during a visit to Madrid by Spanish police but was soon freed when Interpol warned police not to follow the Russian arrest warrant.
— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) January 24, 2019
US Senate Judiciary Committee Testimony
In 2017, Browder testified on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. He directly talked about Russian President Vladimir Putin, stating that he built a fortune by threatening Russian oligarchs and gaining 50% of their profits, and stated that Russia was highly interested in changing foreign policy, so that Putin’s acquired wealth would not be frozen or confiscated.
Around this time, he had focused on writing a book, and published “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice”. The book talked about his years in Russia, and the attacks of the government on his company. He also wrote his responses to Russian corruption, and his support of the investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky. In 2018, he claimed that the Danske Bank’s Estonian operations were used to launder money, as much as $8.3 billion.
For his personal life, not much is known about his romantic relationships. He is married to Elaina Browder but details for their marriage are sparse, except that they have a son together – Joshua Browder – who has also forayed into business, and is the founder of the chatbot DoNotPay, which allows motorists to appeal their parking tickets automatically. He recently launched a new version of his application that allowed users to swipe on court settlements and sue. Despite these business efforts, he is still studying at Stanford University, which is his father’s alma mater.