I just finished the New York Times bestseller Red Notice. I can’t recall how the book got on my radar but it was an interesting read and a welcome break from researching companies and reading financials. After reading Red Notice I thought I would give it a review.
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice was written by Bill Browder. Browder recounts the start of his business career after growing up in a Communist household. Browder first notices an opportunity to invest in Eastern Europe. After achieving multi-bagger returns, Browder was hooked. He realized that being an investor was his true passion.
Russia began major privatization in the early 90’s under Boris Yeltsin. Russian oligarchs found a way to acquire massive stakes in previously Russian state-owned companies. In response, Browder learned how to buy up pieces of these companies at absurdly cheap prices. This was the start of the Hermitage Fund. Overtime Browder became the biggest foreign investor in Russia.
Red Notice: Shining the Light on Corruption
Browder became well known for his use of the media to battle Russian corruption. Companies owned by Browder were scheming to massively dilute his holdings and in turn his wealth. His public battle with corrupt Russian officials drew the ire of the government and eventually Vladamir Putin.
As a result, the Russian government barred Browder from entering Europe. Knowing that his assets were in jeopardy Hermitage Fund liquidated its holdings and got the cash back to England. This didn’t stop the Russians and they raided Hermitage Fund and their lawyer’s offices. Corrupt Russian officers used documents seized in the raid to steal $230 million from the Russian government in tax fraud. After accusing Browder of committing the fraud Russia issued a “Red Notice”. The “Red Notice” was an arrest warrant for Browder to be returned to Russia.
Browder’s lawyer Sergi Magnitsky figured out what the corrupt officials had done. He presented evidence of the $230 million fraud to the Russian government. As a result, Sergi Magnitsky was arrested by the same officers that committed the fraud. Bill Browder and Sergi Magnitsky’s story turns tragic after Magnitsky was jailed for eleven months and eventually died. Magnitstky was denied medical attention and tortured while in jail. He was not allowed to see or speak with his children before he died.
Browder’s Use of the Media
After Sergi Magnitsky’s death, Bill Browder utilized the media to spread the word about Sergi’s murder. This allowed Bill and his associates to get their version of events out without Russian government interference.
Browder and his associates created videos that they posted on Youtube that went viral. This raised awareness for Sergi and his murder. The videos brought global attention to Sergi’s murder and Russian corruption. The videos were titled the Russian Untouchables. Four videos were released in the late 2000’s:
Red Notice: Russian Untouchables
Bill Browder has continued to fight Russian corruption since his publication of Red Notice. A quick Google search of Bill Browder shows that he is still very active in his campaigning against Russia. In a recent video Browder discussing his opinion on why Russia hacked the US election.
Red Notice was a worthwhile read. The book is well-paced and well written. The book starts out on an intriguing adventure following an investor trying to find his passion. Browder finds his niche and after some struggle achieves success with The Hermitage Fund. His financial successes quickly become secondary when he is accused of fraud by the Russian government.
The book turns tragic when Sergi Magnitsky is jailed and eventually murdered. Red Notice is a story of both success and sorrow. Red Notice provides some investing lessons that can be used in the real world. Simply put, don’t follow the herd, look for value, understanding risk, and having conviction in what you believe in.
Red Notice is a possible Christmas gift for the investor in your life. Along the same lines here are some other books that might be a good gift ideas:
Book Review Classification
I’ve come up with a quick classification system for the books I have reviewed.
Buy: I think you should buy the book. The concepts and teachings in the book are ones that you will continue to revisit so having the book on your shelf is an advantage.
Borrow: Many of the books I review are available at your local library. The library is a great resource and an easy way to save a bit of money. Some of the books are not available at the library so borrowing may not be an option. A “borrow” book is a book I think is worth reading but one that you might not revisit or refer to again.
Burn: A book classified as a “burn” is one I didn’t finish or wish I hadn’t read. Let me spend my time reading these “Burn” books so you don’t have too.
Red Notice is a great book and an interesting look into Russian corruption. What I really liked about the book is you can continue on with the story of Bill Browder by doing a quick Google search. Browder has continued his battle against Vladimir Putin.
I rate Red Notice as a borrow. You can likely access Red Notice from your local library.