Russia sanctions advocate says US travel issues left a bad taste in his mouth

Key Points
  • Russia sanctions advocate Bill Browder has been placed on Interpol's wanted list.
  • With that designation, the Hermitage Capital Management CEO cannot cross international borders without fear of being arrested and extradited.
Bill Browder, Hermitage Capital Management
Leon Neal | AFP | Getty Images

A major advocate for Russian sanctions said his U.S. visa waiver has been restored after his placement on an Interpol wanted list snarled his travel plans.

Over the weekend, The Guardian reported that Russia was finally successful in pushing Interpol to place Bill Browder on its wanted list. Browder, a British citizen, said that his Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which grants visa-free travel to the U.S., was revoked because it appears the system is tied to the Interpol list.

DHS' Customs and Border Patrol told CNBC in a statement that Browder's visa-free travel authorization remains valid. A CBP representative said that Browder's authorization had been manually approved on Oct. 18, allowing him to travel to the U.S.

Browder told CNBC in an email that there was some confusion about the timeline because his global entry status had been revoked the following day on Oct. 19.

He later told MSNBC that he is "very happy" that U.S. officials resolved the issue. Earlier Monday, Browder had said on CNBC's "Power Lunch" that a quick fix would indicate the matter was simply a bureaucratic issue. He said that failure to do so would suggest that "there's obviously something more sinister at foot."

Although the matter appears to have been settled, Browder said "this whole incident has left a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth."

After his appearance on MSNBC, Browder tweeted that he was able to confirm that his authorization had been restored.

@Billbrowder: GREAT NEWS! My ESTA (US visa waiver) was restored. I successfully checked into a US flight. Now we need to fix bogus Interpol arrest warrant

While the ESTA restoration allows Browder to enter the U.S. legally, travelling internationally remains an issue.

The Hermitage Capital Management CEO explained that he cannot cross an international border right now without being arrested because of his placement on the Interpol list. Interpol did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

When MSNBC asked if he felt he belonged on the list, Browder responded that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the one who belongs on the list. The Hermitage Capital Mangement CEO called Putin a criminal and a killer.

Browder, formerly the largest foreign investor in Russia, pushed Washington to pass the Magnitsky Act, which froze the U.S. assets of certain Russian officials.

The sanction legislation is named for Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after investigating fraud involving Russian tax officials. The Magnitsky Act targets those who are said to have been involved in the accountant's detention.

Browder said that Putin "hates" the sanction because it "targets his wealth and the wealth of other human rights violators in Russia."

Canada recently passed its own version of the Magnitsky Act, which Browder says "infuriated" Putin.

"As these external sanctions start to gather momentum, he feels more and more helpless about what he's going to be able to do," Browder said on Monday.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Russian prosecutors plan to accuse Browder of colluding with British intelligence agency MI6 in murdering Magnitsky — a case that the newspaper said seemed to "be entering the realm of farce."

The Times noted that this theory was first disseminated on Russian media, but had been disregarded as propaganda as part of a disinformation campaign against Browder.

Watch: Bill Browder says lingering visa issues may suggest 'something sinister is at foot'

State Department reportedly revokes visa of Putin critic Bill Browder