The Russian Kleptocracy File: Bank Records and Real Estate

For a crash course in what ails Russia, turn to the spectacular April 18 story by Barron's Bill Alpert, on "Crime and Punishment in Putin's Russia."  Alpert follows the money trails surfacing in the horrendous story surrounding the death in prison of a Moscow lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky --  after he testified about corrupt involvement of Russian officials in a $230 million case of tax fraud. Alpert reports that almost all of the $230 million is still missing. He adds that a Russian government spokesperson,  "told Barron's on Tuesday that all the bank records police needed in order to trace the loot were in a truck that crashed and exploded in 2008."

Some claim otherwise. As Barron's also reports, Magnitsky's former client, Bill Browder, chief of Hermitage Capital, has been trying to unravel the truth of the case -- an effort, I would add, that requires no small measure of courage on Browder's part. You can read about it on the web site Stop the Untouchables: Justice for Sergei Magnitsky. The latest video connected with this effort, now on youtube, gives quite a panorama of the real estate and bank records allegedly involved in this drama, from Russia to Dubai, Switzerland, Cyprus and Montenegro. Worth watching.