Institutional criminal corruption among banks and power brokers laundering illegally gained money has left a wake of economic and political warfare, arrests, and deaths.
By Graham Simms
The recently arrested Director-General of the (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) RCMP’s National Intelligence Coordination Center, Cameron Ortis, was on the trail of international corruption and money laundering. His investigation involved massive international financial frauds, money looted from Russia, through western banks, some laundered through real estate in Canada.
Ortis “had control over counter-intelligence operations”, Global News reported. During 12 years as a civilian member of the RCMP, he had worked in Operations Research and National Security Criminal Investigations.
Ortis in courtroom sketch
Cameron Ortis, age 47, was relatively young for his top intelligence position. He looks doe-eyed and boyish in his online pictures, a contrast to the beady-eyed courtroom sketch shown in the media. Ortis grew up in Abbotsford, B.C, the son of a Mennonite pastor. Entering high school he had thick glasses and was highly intelligent, and went through a teenage transformation, growing his hair long,
with a love of heavy metal band Twisted Sister, and a wide circle of friends. He did volunteer work in Africa after high school. Described as devoted to public service and making the world a better and safer place.
Ortis in his high school yearbook
He graduated from UBC with a doctorate in Political Science, interested in digital security, and crime- and where they overlap, according to his UBC thesis.
His thesis introduction stated: "The insecurities of the digital world call into question the efficacy and legitimacy of traditional state-based security when applied to new internet-based threats.”
It was a dangerous world wide web of oligarchs and high stakes criminal corruption that Ortis was up against. His relative youth and experience came head to head with the power of experienced masterminds of influence and unstoppable wealth. Aspects of this process ended with him being taken down, charged with various breaches, mostly related to online communications and his handling of information.
His academic advisor and friends expressed surprise and skepticism at the charges, that Ortis’s character seemed morally and professionally inconsistent with someone accused of betraying their country.
Ortis is charged with breaching the Security and Information Act, the Criminal Code and various sections relating to breach of trust by a public officer.
The specifics of the charges and evidence are general or not provided. “Unauthorized communication of Special operational information”, possessing a device or software “useful for concealing the content of information or for surreptitiously communicating, obtaining or retaining information.“
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki
The first five (of seven) charges so far are:
Security of Information Act, Section 14(1): This makes it a crime for people bound to secrecy to share “special operational information.” As defined in the law, that can mean details about anything from military plans to the identity of confidential intelligence sources or Canadian encryption and cyberespionage methods. Punishment: Up to 14 years in prison.
Security of Information Act, Sections 22(1)(b) and 22(1)(e): These sections relate to things the accused may have done to prepare to do something illegal under the act.
Subsection (b) is about “obtaining, retaining or gaining access” to information; subsection (e) is about “possessing any device, apparatus or software” that could hide ill-gotten information or communicate it surreptitiously. Punishment: Up to two years in prison.
Criminal Code, Section 122: This makes it illegal for officials to commit fraud or a breach of trust in connection with their duties. Punishment: Up to five years in prison.
Criminal Code, Section 342.1(1): This is the part of the Criminal Code dealing with unauthorized use of computers, including the illicit sharing of data or passwords. Punishment: Up to 10 years in prison.
Ortis is accused of having the intention or potential to pass “secrets” to “foreign entities”. RCMP are not providing details on what info was not actually passed or to whom it was not passed. The evidence so far includes: hand written notes relating to negating digital fingerprints on computers, and how sensitive work documents were stored. The alleged motive floated is his 90,000$ in debt.
While the media and the RCMP have been tight lipped about details, the initial RCMP investigation into Ortis’ was apparently triggered by an FBI tip.
Cameron Ortis and Phantom Secure CEO Vincent Ramos
According to the media, FBI and RCMP:
In 2015, Ortis allegedly anonymously communicated secrets via the dark web to a provider of some of the worlds only actually fully encrypted cell phones. Vincent Ramos is the now imprisoned Canadian CEO of Phantom Secure Inc. who were a provider of highly encrypted cell phones. Ortis supposedly offered Ramos information on clients that were compromised or undercover. The FBI found out about the anonymous info when they busted Ramos and flipped him and examined one of his computers. The FBI brought this info to the RCMP in 2018 and they say they somehow traced it to Ortis.
Despite the alleged connection to Ramos and Phantom Secure, The Globe and Mail confirmed that Cameron Ortis´s arrest was linked to his work on a domestic money laundering case that overlapped with a Russian financial fraud case, connected to controversial international financier William Browder. They also reported that as recently as August that Ortis was overseeing this probe.
Enter William Browder
Canadian media reported that by 2017 Ortis had met twice with international financier William F Browder in Ottawa. According to Browder, he requested an investigation into the matter, blaming Russian officials for the laundering. While Browder says he asked for an RCMP investigation into his allegations, the RCMP confirm the request but did not open an investigation at his request. However, there was a probe into the case in general which Ortis oversaw.
Browder was the largest western investor in Russia from Yeltsin to Putin, until 2005 when he was banned. He came into the public eye in 2009 after the death of his affiliate Sergei Magnitsky
“Browder is wanted by Russia for tax evasion. He claims that the Russian criminal charges are politically motivated. Yet, the tax evasion (as well as a number of related crimes) Browder is being accused of happened in 2001, the criminal probe into it starting in 2004. It is well known, and easily evidenced, that Browder was an outspoken supporter of Putin and his government until at least 2005.” - Investigator Andrei Nekrasov http://magnitskyact.com/sz
In 2005 Browder was blacklisted as a national security threat in Russia. In 2007 Browder’s firm’s offices in Russia were raided as part of a tax fraud investigation into his companies, Hermitage Capitol and Kameya. Browder described Kameya as “a Russian company owned by one of our clients whom we advised on investing in Russian stocks.” But The New Yorker clarified that “Kameya was, in fact, one of the companies that Hermitage had originally set up in Kalmykia” in order to minimize taxes. (The New Yorker 8/20/18) (The Republic of Kalmykia is on the Volga of southern Russia.) The New Yorker quoted a friend of Browder’s from the 1990s saying “If there has been a consistent passion in Bill’s life over the last twenty or thirty years, it is not wanting to pay taxes. “
Browder suddenly became a human rights activist, lobbying against Russia, under the mantle of Magnitsky’s death. Browder describes Magnitsky as “my Russian lawyer” (Time 7/27/17) but in fact Magnitsky was not a lawyer but actually a tax advisor. Magnitsky was first arrested before the $230 million diversion bank heist of which Browder claims he paid to the Russian government in taxes, but was stolen in an elaborate scheme by corrupt officials. Browder blames Russian interior ministry and tax officials for the disappearance of his $230 million dollars tax payment and for Magnitsky’s death.
The Magnitsky Act
Between 2010 and 2012 Browder lobbied US officials to pass legislation to sanction Russian officials from accessing the US banking system or entering the country. Browder brought the case to Senators McCain and Cardin, who proposed The Magnitsky Act which was passed into law in 2012.
In Canada, in October 2017, both houses of Canadian Parliament passed The Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitysky Law). This law was similar in purpose to the US version, allowing Canadian law to freeze the assets and visa bans on officials from Russia and other nations considered guilty of human rights and banking violations. Thirty Russian officials were on the list, for allegedly participating in the Magnitsky death and in financial frauds, including Browder’s missing money. Browder was successful in passing similar laws in the UK and the Netherlands. This despite the fact that Browder has been associated with financial frauds, and even accused by investigators and Russian officials of masterminding the heist of his own $230 million missing tax payment. In this way, Browder and Magnitsky became proxies in the new Cold War between Russia and the US.
As part of the RCMP Russian-Canadian money laundering investigation, Ortis examined connections surrounding the Browder/Magnitsky case. He had spoken to William Browder as part of this investigation and had plans to meet his legal team. Ortis interviewed Browder and heard his allegations and did not initiate an investigation on his behalf. Ortis would have also corresponded with Russian officials and heard their side of the story, which implicated Browder. Where Ortis’s investigation went after that and what evidence he gathered before his arrest is unknown. But based on the focus of his investigation, the foreign entity that Ortis was charged with planning to share information with was likely Russia.
“If he (Ortis) is compromised in any way then it obviously raises questions about whether the investigation we had tried to initiate was compromised” Browder told Reuters News in a phone interview for a Sept 16, 2019 article....adding that the arrest had been “a complete surprise.
Multiple murders and multiple fraud charges
But it is not only Russian government officials who have suggested that Browder was involved in the cover up and planning of financial fraud. These same conclusions were discovered and investigated by anti-Putin, anti-corruption, film and TV director Andrei Nekrasov. Nekrasov was pro- Browder when he began examining the details of Magnitsky’s death and the financial heist during his work with Browder. This investigation and the back story of the fraud and murder unfolds in his documentary film ‘The Magnitsky Act: Behind The Scenes’. Browder attempted to halt the film from some screenings through threats of lawsuits.
“In 2007, as a result of an elaborate tax rebate scam 230 million dollars were paid into the accounts of three Browder's companies in Russia. No one (neither Browder nor the Russian authorities) deny the tax rebate fraud took place, except that Browder claims he had lost control of his companies before the money was paid out. I investigated Browder's claims, and found that they were false.” http://magnitskyact.com/sz
- Andrei Nekrasov
Browder was tried in absentia in Russia in 2013 for tax fraud and for failing to pay adequate taxes on the over one billion dollars he made in Russia with Hermitage and companies it set up, including specifically Kameya. In 2018 new charges were placed against Browder by Russian prosecutors including an Interpol warrant resulting in Browder being held briefly in Spain. The charges included organizing a “transnational criminal group”.
(The Guardian Nov 19,’18 Herszenhorn, David M. & July 11, 2013 "Dead Lawyer, a Kremlin Critic, Is Found Guilty of Tax Evasion".)
“William Browder, repeatedly convicted in absentia by Russian courts, said that the ICR (The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation-the main federal investigating authority in Russia) charged him with the murder of Russian businessman Alexander Perepilichny, who died (in the UK) in Surrey in 2012...The founder of the Hermitage Capital Foundation is accused of involvement in the theft of 5.4 billion rubles ($82 million), which, as stated in the document, Perepilichny knew…In November last year, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation reported on the detection of common signs in the deaths of at least four former Browder partners. We are talking about Aktay Gasanov, Sergey Korobeinikov, Valery Kurochkin and Sergey Magnitsky. “ (Crime Russia 29 september 2019)
“Perepilichny had been helping Hermitage Capital Management, Bill Browder’s investment firm, uncover a £150m Russian money-laundering operation when he died at the age of 44.” (Financial Times, April 11, 2018 by Jane Croft in London)
“Mr Browder’s lawyer based in Russia was summoned to see the ‘criminal decree’ but not allowed to photocopy it. He was, however, able to take a handwritten note. The decree accuses Mr Browder of being involved in a 5.4 billion rouble ‘embezzlement’ and claimed Mr Perepilichnyy, who died in 2012, “possessed information” of that financial crime.”
(Telegraph Robert Mendick, Alec Luhn 2 March 2019)
“There were also suggestions he was working with British secret services but, after reviewing MI5 and MI6 files, the coroner said their reports on Mr Perepilichnyy's alleged involvement would remain secret.” (BBC News Alexander Perepilichnyy:
The questions raised by Russian whistleblower inquest. 19 December 2018).
Browder’s loss of so many partners to premature deaths in such a short period of time seems statistically unlikely.
The 1998 IMF Bank Diversion
The origin of Browder’s connection to missing Russian money goes back to the 1990s when President Boris Yeltsin’s move to capitalism opened state assets to privatization and loopholes that enabled the plunder of Russia. Large amounts of capital left Russia through US and European banks and offshore havens. Handing over state assets for cheap to businessman created numerous billionaire Oligarchs, but the economy was weakened. Browder’s was the largest investment firm in Russia until he was barred in 2005.
At the peak of the post cold-war Russian economic collapse, in August 1998, the Russian ruble was devalued by 38%. That summer, under pressure from the Clinton administration, the IMF began injecting a further $26.3 Billion into the Russian economy in the last year of Boris Yeltsin’s presidency.
The first payment of $4.8 billion of IMF ruble relief was intended to arrive in Russian banks, but the money was instead somehow diverted to the scandal ridden (Republic National) Bank of New York, owned by Browder’s partner in Hermitage Capitol, billionaire “notorious banker” Edmond Safra.
Browder’s Hermitage Capital was actually controlled by Edmond Safra’s Bank of New York, according to Martin Armstrong, (July 26, 2017 armstrongeconomics.com) Safra helped start it when he “put $25 million in seed capital for Hermitage Capital and Safra’s Republic National Bank of New York controlled it.” Browder’s business partner Safra was killed four months after the IMF scandal, in December 1999, when his Monaco home was set on fire by one of his bodyguards.
Besides Safra’s Bank of New York and it’s Geneva intermediary bank, the funds were also siphoned off to The Bank of Sydney; $2.1 billion converted into pounds sterling and transferred to National Westminster Bank, and Credit Suisse Bank. In this way the first chunk of the IMF funds intended to support the Russian economy disappeared into the western banking system.
Parts of the IMF funds were eventually traced through the bank of Sydney to a corporate account partially owned by Yeltsin’s daughter. While the Bank of New York’s Geneva intermediary conduit led to a Russian account owned by Roman Abramovich and a Swiss account owned by Boris Berezovsky, both Russian Oligarchs. So there were Kremlin links, Russian Oligarchs, British and Swiss bank links to the IMF “slush funds.”
According to Wikipedia, Abramovich is a Russian-Israeli billionaire businessman, investor and politician and the owner of Chelsea F.C. Premier League football club. He was formerly governor of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug from 2000 to 2008. “According to Forbes, Abramovich's net worth was US$12.9 billion in 2019, making him the richest person in Israel, 11th-richest in Russia…”
Abramovich was friends with Yeltsin and business partners with Berezovsky in Russian commodities like oil and aluminum. In 2011 these two Oligarchs would eventually have a $5 billion legal falling out that was dismissed.
In 2000, Swiss prosecutors probed the diverted IMF funds. Clinton stonewalled the Swiss investigation.
“An allegation emerging from a Swiss investigation links Roman Abramovich, through a former company, and numerous other Russian politicians, industrialists and bankers to using a US$4.8 billion (€3.4 billion) loan from the IMF as personal slush fund; an audit sponsored by the IMF itself determined that all of the IMF funds had been used appropriately.” (Wikipedia)
The IMF fund diversion has never been fully publically investigated and no one ever prosecuted.
Putin’s administration set about trying to recover the money that they believed was illegally taken from their country during and after Yeltsin’s presidency, and since 2012 the sanctions imposed by The Magnitsky Act tied their hands internationally. The Act was used to sanction Russian officials from getting legal access to international banks.
Last year, after a Swiss police money laundering investigator met with Russians about the same case Ortis was working on, he was also changed with being a spy.
Swiss police investigator working same Russian fraud case as Ortis also removed
A Swiss federal police officer who was also working on the Russian money laundering investigation involving Browder met with a Russian federal lawyer and was then placed under criminal investigation by Swiss prosecutors. The officer is being investigated for “corruption, abuse of power, and violating professional secrets.” Swiss Police have charged Mr. K. with being a mole.
According to Fox News (March 02/18) Mr. K. (name redacted) went to Moscow and met with the deputy Prosecutor General of Russia, and lawyer Nathalia Veselnitskaya. Nathalia Veselnitskaya is the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. , Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016 in Trump Tower. She was there to push back against the Magnitsky Act sanctions.
In relation to the Swiss investigation and Browder, Veselnitskaya commented:
“...it is obvious to me that he (Swiss investigator Mr K.) was removed for honestly doing his work. Unfortunately, Switzerland made itself a tool in William Browder’s hands aimed at undermining the reputation and challenging the integrity of the police and prosecution authorities both in Russia and Switzerland.”
Browder has petitioned to have the man overseeing Mr K’s case and other Russian money laundering cases, Switzerland’s Patrick Lamon, also removed from the case due to his allegedly being compromised by Mr K. He suggested the same possibility in Canada.
The Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya
The meeting was held on June 9, 2016, on the pretext that the Russians had information that would be damaging to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr’s lawyer stated that Veselnitskaya told the meeting “that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs Clinton.”
The Hill reported that Veselnitskaya reiterated that Browder’s firm committed tax evasion in Russia then donated most of the money to the Democratic presidential campaign. “Violations of Russian law by a Democratic donor.”
So it was not long, by January 2019 that The Guardian reported that Veselnitskaya has been charged with obstruction of justice in a criminal indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. She was accused of fabricating evidence in a US money-laundering case, creating fake evidence with the office of Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. The money laundering referred to was $230 million taken by an unnamed criminal network and laundered into real estate in Manhattan and Canada.
These charges were specifically about her work representing Prevezon Holdings, who were sued for money laundering by the US government in NY. But in the end, after five years of trying to prove that Prevezone were involved in the Magnitsky fraud, the court battle ended with Prevezone paying $5.9 million and did not have to admit any wrongdoing. Veselnitskaya cannot travel to the US anymore, risking arrest and prison.
Veselnitskaya’s memo indicated that it was the New York billionaire Ziff brothers who financed HRCs campaign with illegally gained money. Browder’s largest investors were Ziff Brothers Investments.
Her memo also specified that Browder implemented “an illegal scheme of buying up Gazprom shares by foreign companies to bypass the ban on foreign direct investments.” She pointed out that Browder was a “fugitive criminal accused of tax fraud in Russia...who in 1998 renounced US citizenship for tax reasons.”
And her memo characterized the Magnitsky Act as a “massive three-year lobbying campaign” by Browder, designed to instigate “a new round of the Cold War between the United States and Russia.”
The Helsinki Conference: Putin’s number one enemy
The conference took place July 16, 2018. Putin referenced Browder at the post summit press conference. Putin “accused US intelligence officials of helping Browder funnel $400 million worth of cash he allegedly stole from Russia in the form of unpaid taxes into Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” (The Atlantic, July 18, 2018)
Putin told reporters “We have solid reason to believe that some United States intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions.”
Putin offered Trump a “treaty” where Mueller could interrogate Russian individuals “he believes are privy to some crimes” in Russia. On the reciprocal condition that Russia could “question officials, including law enforcement and intelligence services of the US whom we believe have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia.”
Putin told Trump and the international press: “For instance, we can bring up Mr Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes. Neither in Russia or in the US...They sent huge amounts of money, $400 million as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton...It might have been legal, the contribution itself. But the way the money was earned was illegal. We have solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers, guided those transactions. So we have an interest in questioning them.” (From Vox transcript of Helsinki press conference, July 17, 2018)
Trump called Putin’s barter of Browder for the election hackers “an interesting idea” and “an incredible offer,” but one that was never accepted.
Stefan Hedlund, author of ‘Russia and the IMF: A sordid tale of Moral Hazard.’ (Demokratizatsiya.pub), surmised:
“But few if any significant truths or admissions of guilt are likely to come on record. There is, quite simply, too much high-level politics involved for truth or justice to prevail.”
By Graham Simms
Telegraph Robert Mendick, Alec Luhn 2 MARCH 2019
BBC News Alexander Perepilichnyy:: The questions raised by Russian whistleblower inquest 19 December 2018
Kennedy, Dominic. Chelsea boss linked to $4.8bn loan scandal. The Times. 16 August 2004. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
"Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty". Rferl.org. 27 June 2002.
Hirschler, Richard, ed. (1999). "Foreign Loans Diverted in Monster Money Laundering".
Transition. World Bank. 10 (4): 11–13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2010.
(The Guardian Nov 19,’18). Herszenhorn, David M. (July 11, 2013). "Dead Lawyer, a Kremlin Critic, Is Found Guilty of Tax Evasion".
Vox July 16, 2018 Putin kindly offers to help investigate Russian meddling in the US election