Semion Mogilevich

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Semion Mogilevich
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
Charges * Fraud by Wire
Reward $100,000
Alias Seva Moguilevich
Semon Yudkovich Palagnyuk
Semen Yukovich Telesh
Simeon Mogilevitch
Semjon Mogilevcs
Shimon Makelwitsh
Shimon Makhelwitsch
Sergei Yurevich Schnaider
Born Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich
June 30, 1946 (1946-06-30) (age 74)
Kiev, Ukrainian SSR
Nationality Ukrainian
Gender Male
Height 5'6" to 5'7"
Weight 290 pounds
Occupation Businessman
Spouse Katalin Papp
Criminal Status
Added October 23, 2009
Number 494
Currently A Top Ten Fugitive

Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich[1] (Ukrainian: Семен Ю́дкович Могиле́вич, tr: Semen Yudkovych Mohylevych, [sɛmˈɛn ˈjudkɔwɪt͡ʃ mɔɦɪˈlɛwɪt͡ʃ]; born June 30, 1946) is a Ukrainian-born organized crime boss, believed by European and United States federal law enforcement agencies to be the "boss of bosses" of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world.[2] He is believed to direct a vast criminal empire and is described by the FBI as "the most dangerous mobster in the world".[3][4]

Mogilevich's nicknames include "Don Semyon", and "The Brainy Don" (because of his business acumen[5]). He is said to control RosUkrEnergo, a company currently actively involved in Russia–Ukraine gas disputes.[6] Secret US diplomatic cables, released by Wikileaks, describe Mogilevich as the figure in charge of both RosUkrEnergo and Raiffeisen Bank. They also state that Mogilevich has close links to Gazprom, the Russian state energy company.[7][8]

He is based in Moscow, Russia. He is most closely associated with the Solntsevskaya Bratva crime group. Political figures he has close alliances with include Yury Luzhkov, the former Mayor of Moscow, Dmytro Firtash and Leonid Derkach, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine.[9][7] Oleksandr Turchynov, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, went to court for allegedly destroying files pertaining to Mogilevich.[10][11] Mogilevich is believed to have ordered many assassinations of his enemies across the world, including both shootings and car-bombs.[12]


Mogilevich was born in Kiev's Podil neighborhood to a Jewish family.[13] At the age of 22 he earned a degree in economics from Lviv University.

In the early 1970s he became part of the Lyuberetskaya crime group in Moscow and was involved in petty theft and fraud. He served two terms (3 and 4 years) for currency-dealing offenses.[14]

During the 1980s, tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian Jews were emigrating to Israel on short notice and without the ability to quickly transfer their possessions. Mogilevich would offer to sell property – their furniture, art and diamonds – on behalf of the prospective émigrés, promising to forward the money on to Israel. The money was, instead, used to invest in black market and criminal activities.[15] In 1990, already a millionaire, Mogilevich moved to Israel, together with several top lieutenants. Here he invested in a wide range of legal businesses, whilst continuing to operate a worldwide network of prostitution, weapon, and drug smuggling through a complex web of offshore companies.[16]

In 1991 Mogilevich married his Hungarian girlfriend Katalin Papp and moved to Hungary and had three children with her, obtaining a Hungarian passport; at this point, Mogilevich held Russian, Ukrainian, Israeli and Hungarian citizenship. Living in a fortified villa outside Budapest, he continued to invest in a wide array of enterprises, including buying a local armament factory, "Army Co-Op", which produced anti-aircraft guns.[17]

In 1994, Mogilevich group obtained control over Inkombank, one of the largest private banks in Russia,[18] in a secret deal with bank chairman Vladimir Vinogradov, getting direct access to the world financial system. The bank collapsed in 1998 under suspicions of money laundering.[19] Through Inkombank, in 1996 he obtained a significant share in Sukhoi, a large military aircraft manufacturer.[citation needed]

In May 1995, a meeting in Prague between Mogilevich and Sergei Mikhailov, head of the Solntsevo group, was raided by Czech police. The occasion was a birthday party for one of the deputy Solntsevo mafiosi. Two hundred partygoers (including dozens of prostitutes) in the restaurant "U Holubů" (owned by Mogilevich) were detained and thirty expelled from the country.[20] Police had been tipped off that the Solntsevo group intended to execute Mogilevich at the party[21] over a disputed payment of $5 million. But Mogilevich never showed and it is believed that a senior figure in the Czech police, working with the Russian mafia, had warned him.[22] Soon, however, the Czech Interior Ministry imposed a 10-year entry ban on Mogilevich, while the Hungarian government declared him persona non grata and the British barred his entry into the UK, declaring him "one of the most dangerous men in the world".[23]

Semion Mogilevich (2001)

Both Mogilevich and his associate Mikhailov ceased to travel to the west in the late 1990s, although Mogilevich retains an Israeli passport.[24] In 1997 and 1998, the presence of Mogilevich, Mikhailov and others associated with the Russian Mafia behind a public company trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), YBM Magnex International Inc., was exposed by Canadian journalists. On May 13, 1998, dozens of agents for the FBI and several other U.S. government agencies raided YBM's headquarters in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Shares in the public company, which had been valued at $1 billion on the TSX, became worthless overnight.[25] As to Mogilevich himself, federal law enforcement agencies from throughout the world had by now been trying to prosecute him for over 10 years. But he had, in the words of one journalist, "a knack for never being in the wrong place at the wrong time."[26]

Until 1998, Inkombank and Bank Menatep participated in a US$ 10 billion money laundering scheme through the Bank of New York.[27][28][29][30]

Mogilevich was also suspected of participation in large scale fraud, where untaxed heating oil was sold as highly taxed car fuel.[when?] Estimates are that up to one third of sold fuels went through this scheme, resulting in massive tax losses for countries of Central Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland).[31] In 2003, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation put Mogilevich on the "Wanted List" for participation in the scheme to defraud investors in Canadian company YBM Magnex International Inc. Frustrated by their previous unsuccessful efforts to charge him for arms trafficking and prostitution, they had now settled on the large-scale fraud charges as their best hope of running him to ground. He was, however, considered to be the most powerful Russian mobster alive.[24] In a 2006 interview, former Clinton administration anti-organized-crime czar Jon Winer said, "I can tell you that Semion Mogilevich is as serious an organized criminal as I have ever encountered and I am confident that he is responsible for contract killings."[24]

Mogilevich was arrested in Moscow on January 24, 2008, for suspected tax evasion.[32][33] He was released on July 24, 2009. On his release, the Russian interior ministry stated that he was released because the charges against him "are not of a particularly grave nature."[34][35] On October 22, 2009 he was named by the FBI as the 494th fugitive to be placed on the Ten Most Wanted list.[36]

See also


  2. Glenny, Misha (2008), McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld; New York: Alfred A. Knopf, pp 72–73.
  3. Petrostate: Putin, power, and the new Russia, Marshall I. Goldman (Oxford University Press, 2008)
  4. The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World According to the FBI and Israeli Intelligence, Village Voice, By Robert I. Friedman Tuesday, May 26, 1998
  5. "His savvy has earned him the nickname "Brainy Don." AMW Semion Mogilevich FBI: Moscow Crime Boss A Global ThreatAmerica's Most Wanted
  6. According to Ukrainian Prime-Minister Yulia Tymoshenko "we have no doubts whatsoever that the man named Mogilevich is behind the whole operation called RosUkrEnergo", see The High Price of Gas by BBC News. Mogilevich has denied through a lawyer any links to RosUkrEnergo, see Russia frees crime boss wanted by U.S. by Reuters.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Rachkevych, Mark (3 December 2010). "U.S. Official: Austrian Bank's Ties to RosUkrEnergo Suspicious". Kyiv Post. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
  8. WikiLeaks cables link Russian mafia boss to EU gas supplies Luke Harding, The Guardian Wednesday 1 December 2010
  9. Ukraine, Vanco Energy and the Russian Mob, Eurasia Daily Monitor, 16 September 2008.
  10. New and conflicting details emerge over Mogilevich’s alleged involvement in nation, Kyiv Post (December 10, 2010)
  11. Rada wants corruption inquiryKyiv Post, Jul 5, 2001 at 18:00
  12. AMW Semion Mogilevich FBI: Moscow Crime Boss A Global ThreatAmerica's Most Wanted
  13. Block, Alan A.; Weaver, Constance A. (2004) All Is Clouded by Desire: Global Banking, Money Laundering, and International Organized Crime. Greenwood Publishing Group: Westport. ISBN 0-275-98330-7 pp 154.
  14. Friedman, Robert I. (1998), “The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World”; The Village Voice, Tuesday, May 26th 1998.
  15. Friedman (1998), Op. cit.
  16. Article about Mogilevich, also covers early years. Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  17. Article about activities in Hungary. Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  18. New York court document, 2000. Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  19. Moscow Telegraph on investigation of Inkombank management. Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  20. Journal of the Czech ministry of interior, article about Russian mafias (Czech). Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  21. Biography of Mogilevich, newspaper Lidové Noviny (Czech). Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  22. Glenny (2008), Op. cit., pp 71–72.
  23. Glenny (2008), Op. cit., pp 75.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Glenny (2008), Op. cit., pg 77.
  25. "BBC Panorama's "The Billion Dollar Don"". BBC News. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  26. Glenny (2008), Op. cit., pg 76.
  27. Overview of the money laundering schemes. Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  28. The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 1999: "A Scheme for Ducking Taxes May Be a Key In Russia Money Probe"
  29. Testimony of Thomas Renyi, CEO of the bank, 1999. Archived from the original on September 29, 2006. Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  30. Senior manager of BoNY indicted, 2001. Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  31. Overview of fuels scandal, newspaper Lidové Noviny (Czech). Retrieved on October 7, 2006.
  32. "Russia detains crime boss wanted by FBI"
  33. "Semyon Mogilevich, the 'East European mafia boss', captured in Moscow"
  34. "Suspects in Arbat Prestige case released with travel ban"
  35. Russia frees crime boss wanted by U.S., Reuters (July 27, 2009)
  36. FBI press release announcing Mogilevich's addition to the list

External links