8 November 2019 — Off Guardian
The network of lawyers in conflicting roles in Browder, Assange and US government cases raises questions about Julian Assange’s defense.
A US government lawyer in the Assange extradition case just wrote a London Times oped promoting the Browder Magnitsky hoax. Ben Brandon is one of five lawyers in a London network whose spokes link to convicted tax fraudster William Browder, the U.S. government, and to both sides of the extradition case against whistleblower publisher Julian Assange.
Here is how the British legal system works. Lawyers are either solicitors who work with clients or barristers who go to court in cases assigned by the solicitors. To share costs, barristers operate in chambers, which provide office space, including conference rooms and dining halls, clerks who receive and assign cases from solicitors, and other support staff. London has 210 chambers. There are not “partners” sharing profits, but members operate fraternally with each other.
Browder is key in the U.S. demonization of Russia. Assange has exposed U.S. war crimes. For lawyers associated in the British legal system to take both sides on that conflict would appear to be an egregious conflict of interest. But it fits with the U.S.-UK support of the Browder-Magnitsky hoax and their cooperation in the attack on Assange.
The law firm and chambers involved in the Browder-Assange stories are Mishcon de Reya, Matrix Chambers and Doughty Street Chambers.
Ben Brandon of Mishcon de Reya and Alex Bailin of Matrix Chambers co-authored an opinion article in The Times of London October 24, 2019 in which they repeated William Browder’s fabrications about the death of his accountant Sergei Magnitsky.
The article aimed to promote the Magnitsky Act which builds a political wall against Russia. It is based on the fake claim that Magnitsky, the accountant who handled Browder’s tax evasion in Russia, was really a lawyer who exposed a government scam.
Except that is not true, there is no evidence for it, and the lies are documented here. But the Act has prevented the Russians from collecting about $100 million Browder owes in back taxes and illicit stock buys.
Brandon’s and Bailin’s connections are notable. Law firms, at least in the U.S., tend to stake out their commitments. Lawyers who represent unions do not represent companies fighting unions. It appears to be different in Britain, where legal chambers have members on either side of some cases.
Bailin is a member of Matrix Chambers, which was founded by the wife of Tony Blair, the former neocon Labor British Prime Minister.
He is solidly in the Browder camp. He represented Leonid Nevzlin, a major partner of Browder collaborator Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who according to filings with FARA (the Foreign Agents Registration Act), paid $385,000 for Congress to adopt the Magnitsky Act which has been used by the U.S. as a weapon against the Russian government.
Nevzlin’s suit was for $50 billion against Russia for money allegedly lost by the nationalization of Yukos Oil. Yukos was obtained by Khodorkovsky in the mid-90s in one of then Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s rigged auctions. Khodorkovsky’s bank Menatep ran the auction.
He paid $309 million for a controlling 78 percent of the state company. Months later, Yukos traded on the Russian stock exchange at a market capitalization of $6 billion. Not surprising, after Yeltsin departed, the state wanted the stolen assets back.
To add insult to injury, Khodorkovsky laundered profits from Yukos through transfer-pricing and other scams.
Transfer pricing is when you sell products to a shell company at a fake low price, and the shell sells them on the world market at the real price, giving you the rake-off. It cheats tax authorities and minority shareholders. See how Khodorkovsky and Browder did this with Russian company Avisma, which Khodorkovsky also got through a rigged auction.
The Times oped co-author, Brandon of Mishcon de Reya, has a startling connection. The day after an extradition request targeting Julian Assange was signed by the UK home secretary, Brandon representing the U.S. government, formally opened the extradition case.
Now look at another Assange link. Mark Summers, who is representing Julian Assange is, along with Bailin, a member of Matrix Chambers.
But while he is Assange’s lawyer, Summers is acting for Assange’s persecutor, the U.S. government, in a major extradition case involving executives of Credit Suisse in 2013 making fake loans and getting kickbacks from Mozambique government officials.
Does Assange, or those who care about his interests, know he is part of chambers working for the U.S. government?
And where do you put this factoid? Alex Bailin is representing Andrew Pearse, one of the Credit Suisse bankers that the U.S. government, represented by Summers, is seeking to extradite!
But there’s chambers where two members are each supporting both Browder and Assange.
Geoffrey Robertson is founder of Doughty Street Chambers. He is also a longtime Browder / Magnitsky story promoter. He has pitched implementation of a Magnitsky Act in Australia and has served Browder in UK court.
In 2017 British legal actions surrounding an inquest into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy, he represented Browder, who claimed that the Russian, who died of a heart attack, was somehow a victim of Russian President Putin. Perepilichnyy had lost money in investments he was handling for clients and had to get out of town.
Needing support, he decamped to London and gave Browder documents relating to his client’s questionable bank transfers. He died after a jog, Browder claimed he was poisoned by a rare botanical substance, obviously ordered by Putin, but forensic tests found that untrue. Robertson accused local police of a cover-up.
He is a legal advisor to Assange and is regularly interviewed by international media about the case.
Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers also has a Browder connection. She is acting for Paul Radu a journalist and official of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) which is being sued by an Azerbaijan MP. OCCRP is a Browder collaborator.
Browder admits in a deposition that OCCRP prepared documents he would give to the U.S. Justice Department to accuse the son of a Russian railway official of getting $1.9 million of $230 million defrauded from the Russian Treasury. The case was settled when the U.S. couldn’t prove the charge, and the target declined to spend more millions of dollars in his defense. OCCRP got the first Magnitsky Human Rights award, set up for Browder’s partners and acolytes.
Robinson is also the longest-serving member of Assange’s legal team. She acted for Assange in the Swedish extradition proceedings and in relation to Ecuador’s request to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Advisory Opinion proceedings on the right to asylum.
Why did Assange or his advisors choose lawyers associated with the interests of the U.S. government and Browder? Or how could those lawyers be so ignorant about the facts of Browder’s massive tax evasion and his Magnitsky story fabrications?
It raises questions about how they are handling the Assange defense.
The individuals cited were asked to respond to points made about them, but none did.