|FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive|
Semon Yudkovich Palagnyuk
Semen Yukovich Telesh
Sergei Yurevich Schnaider
|Born||Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich|
June 30, 1946
Kyiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
|Nationality||Ukrainian, Russian, Hungarian, Israeli|
|Height||168 cm (5 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||130 kg (290 lb)|
|Occupation||Russian mafia boss, confidence trickster, businessman|
|Added||October 23, 2009|
|Removed||December 17, 2015|
|Removed from Top Ten Fugitive List|
Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich (Ukrainian: Семе́н Ю́дкович Могиле́вич, romanized: Semén Júdkovych Mohylévych [seˈmɛn ˈjudkowɪtʃ moɦɪˈlɛwɪtʃ]; born June 30, 1946) is a Ukrainian-born, Russian organized crime boss. He quickly built a highly structured criminal organization, in the mode of a traditional American mafia family. Indeed, many of the organization’s 250 members are his relatives. He is described by agencies in the European Union and United States as the "boss of bosses" of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world, he is believed to direct a vast criminal empire and is described by the FBI as "the most dangerous mobster in the world." He has been accused by the FBI of "weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale."
Mogilevich's nicknames include "Don Semyon" and "The Brainy Don" (because of his business acumen). According to US diplomatic cables, he controls RosUkrEnergo, a company actively involved in Russia–Ukraine gas disputes, and a partner of Raiffeisen Bank.
Mogilevich currently lives freely in Moscow, and has three children. He is most closely associated with the Solntsevskaya Bratva crime group. He has close alliances with political figures including Yury Luzhkov, the former Mayor of Moscow, Dmytro Firtash, and Leonid Derkach, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine. Oleksandr Turchynov, who was designated as acting President of Ukraine in February 2014, appeared in court in 2010 for allegedly destroying files pertaining to Mogilevich. Russian FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko, shortly before his assassination, claimed that Mogilevich had a "good relationship" with Vladimir Putin since the 1990s.[a]
William Sessions, former FBI Director from 1987 to 1993 during the Presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush (41), was Mogilevich's attorney in the United States until Sessions' death on June 12, 2020.
His first significant fortune derived from scamming fellow Soviet Jews (mainly Ukrainians and Russians) eager to emigrate to countries such as Israel, place where Mogilevich himself settled in 1990; According to some reports, Mogilevich earned a lot of money as an intermediary selling jewelry and artwork belonging to Jews who emigrated from Kyiv in the 1980s. Mogilevich made deals to buy their assets, sell them for fair market value, and forward the proceeds. Instead he simply sold the assets and pocketed the proceeds. He served two terms in prison, of 3 and 4 years, for currency-dealing offenses.
In early 1991, Mogilevich moved to Hungary and married his Hungarian girlfriend Katalin Papp. He had three children with her, and obtained a Hungarian passport. 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.
In 1994, the Mogilevich group obtained control over Inkombank, one of the largest private banks in Russia, 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.
In May 1995, a meeting in Prague between Mogilevich and Sergei Mikhailov, head of the Solntsevskaya Bratva, 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 30 expelled from the country. Police had been tipped off that the Solntsevo group intended to execute Mogilevich at the party over a disputed payment of $5 million. But Mogilevich never showed up and it is believed that a senior figure in the Czech police, working with the Russian mafia, had warned him. Soon after, the Czech Interior Ministry imposed a ten-year entry ban on him, 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."
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.
Toxic waste scheme with American Mafia
In 1998, an FBI informant told the bureau that one of Mogilevich’s chief lieutenants in Los Angeles met two Russians from New York City with Genovese crime family ties to broker a scheme to dump American toxic waste in Russia. Mogilevich’s man from L.A. said the Red Mafia would dispose of the toxic waste in the Chernobyl region, "probably through payoffs to the decontamination authorities there," says a classified FBI report.
Money laundering and tax evasion
Until 1998, Inkombank and Bank Menatep participated in a US$10 billion money laundering scheme through the Bank of New York. Mogilevich was also suspected of participation in large-scale tax fraud, where untaxed heating oil was sold as highly taxed car fuel – one of the greatest scandals that broke around 1990–1991.
Estimates are that up to one-third of fuels sold went through this scheme, resulting in massive tax losses for various countries of Central Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland). In the Czech Republic the scandal is estimated to have cost the taxpayers around 100 billion CZK (≈US$5 billion) and involved, besides others, murders and the attempted assassination of a journalist writing about the problem.
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 considered to be the most powerful Russian mobster alive. 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."
Mogilevich was arrested in Moscow on January 24, 2008, for suspected tax evasion. His bail was placed, and 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".
FBI Ten Most Wanted list
On October 22, 2009, he was named by the FBI as the 494th fugitive to be placed on the Ten Most Wanted list. In December 2015, he was removed from the list. The FBI indicated he no longer met list criteria, for reasons relating to living in a country with which the United States does not maintain an extradition treaty.
According to FBI reports, Mogilevich had alliances with the Camorra, in particular with Salvatore DeFalco, a lower-echelon member of the Giuliano clan. Mogilevich and DeFalco would have held meetings in Prague in 1993.
In spite of the warrants issued against him, he still lives freely in Moscow, according to the FBI. As to Mogilevich himself, government law enforcement agencies from throughout the world had by then 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".
Both Mogilevich and his associate Mikhailov ceased to travel to the West in the late 1990s.
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- Semyon Mogilevich, the 'East European mafia boss', captured in Moscow
- archive today