In a scenario sounding like a spy film screenplay, a 44-year-old Russian whistleblower, who collapsed and died outside his home in Surrey England, has been found to have traces of a rare plant poison in his stomach. Now, Stanford MBA grad and Hermitage Capital hedge fund CEO Bill Browder says that his firm repeatedly informed the Surrey police department that the whistleblower’s death was not from natural causes and was related to major fraud relating to the fund.
The whistleblower, Alexander Perepilichnyy had previously been healthy and was expected to be the key witness in a Swiss court case but began to receive death threats, according to the Hermitage Capital letter. Perepilichnyy had provided details of a major fraud involving Russian tax officials involving $130 million. The money allegedly came from taxes paid by Hermitage Capital, the fund run by Browder. The Hermitage Fund has been extremely successful and has been ranked as the World’s Best Performing Emerging Markets fund at one point. The fund specializes in Russian markets and is an activist fund, exposing corporate corruption in companies it is holding in the hope to improve managerial behavior and increase share prices.
In 2013, Russian officials announced that Browder and his lawyer would be put on trial for tax evasion. Hermitage’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died while in pre-trial detention. Browder left Russia but was convicted in abstentia
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.