Putin Denies Knowing of Banned Hedge Fund Manager Bill Browder

Bloomberg – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he’s “never heard of” Bill Browder, founder of the hedge-fund firm Hermitage Capital Management Inc. who has been barred from Russia since November 2005.

“I never heard of that name before,” Putin said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde transmitted live to journalists in Paris yesterday. “If this person thinks his rights have been violated, let him go to court.”

Browder, 44, a U.S.-born British citizen, is banned from returning to Russia under a law that keeps out people denoted as threatening “the security of the state, public order or public health.” Hermitage, once the largest foreign owner of Russian stocks, said in April it’s a victim of corporate identity theft in Russia.

Putin, who stepped aside as president to become prime minister earlier this month, was queried about Browder’s exclusion at a press conference in St. Petersburg in July 2006. Putin said then he didn’t know who the reporter was talking about and could only presume he must have broken the law.

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