Semion Mogilevich

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Semion Mogilevich
An image of Semion Mogilevich released by the FBI and State Department on 6 April 2022
An image of Semion Mogilevich released by the FBI and State Department on 6 April 2022
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive
AliasSeva Moguilevich
Semon Yudkovich Palagnyuk
Semen Yukovich Telesh
Simeon Mogilevitch
Semjon Mogilevcs
Shimon Makelwitsh
Shimon Makhelwitsch
Sergei Yurevich Schnaider
BornSemion Yudkovich Mogilevich
(1946-06-30) June 30, 1946 (age 77)
Kyiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
NationalityUkrainian, Russian, Israeli
Height168 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Weight130 kg (290 lb)
OccupationRussian mafia boss, confidence trickster, businessman, racketeer, crime lord, gangster
Tatiana Markova
Galina Grigorieva
Katalin Papp
(m. 1991)
ChildrenAt least 3[1]
AddedOctober 23, 2009[2]
RemovedDecember 17, 2015
Removed from Top Ten Fugitive List

Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich (Ukrainian: Семен Юдкович Могилевич, romanizedSemén Yúdkovych Mohylévych [seˈmɛn ˈjudkowɪtʃ moɦɪˈlɛwɪtʃ]; born June 30, 1946) is a Jewish Ukrainian-born Russian organized crime boss. He quickly built a highly structured criminal organization, in the mode of an American mafia family; many of the organization's 250 members are his relatives.[3] He is described by agencies in the European Union and United States as the "boss of all bosses" of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world,[4] he is believed to direct a multibillion-dollar international criminal empire and is described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as "the most powerful and dangerous gangster in the world," with immense power and reach at a global scale, and connections to prominent government, military, and law enforcement officials, and powerful politicians around the world.[5][3] He has been accused by the FBI of "weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale."[6]

Mogilevich's nicknames include "Don Semyon" and "The Brainy Don" (because of his business acumen).[7] According to US diplomatic cables, he controls RosUkrEnergo,[8] a company actively involved in Russia–Ukraine gas disputes, and is a partner of Ivan Gordiyenko.

Mogilevich has three children and is closely associated with the Solntsevskaya crime group. He has 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.[9][10][11] Oleksandr Turchynov, who was designated the acting President of Ukraine in February 2014, appeared in court in 2010 for allegedly destroying files pertaining to Mogilevich.[12] Shortly before his assassination, Russian FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko claimed Mogilevich had a "good relationship" with Vladimir Putin from the 1990s.[13][14][a]

William S. Sessions, Director of the FBI from 1987 to 1993 during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, was Mogilevich's attorney in the United States until Sessions' death on June 12, 2020.[17][18]


Early life[edit]

Mogilevich was born in 1946 to a Jewish family in Kyiv's Podil neighborhood.[19] He graduated in economics from the University of Lviv.[20]

His first significant fortune derived from scamming fellow Soviet Jews (mainly Ukrainian and Russian) eager to emigrate, including to Israel, the country where Mogilevich himself briefly lived in 1990. According to some reports, Mogilevich earned a considerable amount of money as an intermediary selling jewelry and artwork belonging to Jews who emigrated from Kyiv in the 1980s.[21] Mogilevich made deals to purchase 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.[3]

In the 1980s, according to the FBI, Mogilevich was the key money-laundering contact for the Solntsevskaya Bratva.[22]


In early 1991, Mogilevich moved to Hungary and married his Hungarian girlfriend Katalin Papp. He has at least three children: a daughter by ex-wife Tatiana Markova, a son with ex-wife Galina Grigorieva, and a son with Papp.[1] Through his marriage to Papp, he obtained a Hungarian passport. Living in a fortified villa outside Budapest, he continued to invest in many enterprises; he bought a local armament factory, "Army Co-Op", which produced anti-aircraft guns.[23]

In 1994, the Mogilevich group obtained control over Inkombank, one of the largest private banks in Russia,[24] 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.[25]

The Hungarian mafia is closely associated with People's Republic of China mafia, especially from Fujian (Fuiying) (Russian: Фуцзянь (Фуйин)) and Zhejiang (Zheiyang) (Russian: Чжэцзян (Жейианг)).[26]

Czech raid[edit]

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.[27] Police had been tipped off that the Solntsevo group intended to execute Mogilevich at the party[28] over a disputed payment of $5 million. But Mogilevich never arrived and it is believed that a senior figure in the Czech police, working with the Russian mafia, had warned him.[29] 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."[30]

Toronto exchange[edit]

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.[31]

Toxic waste scheme with Italian American Mafia[edit]

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 or Ukraine. Mogilevich's man from L.A. said the Red Mafia would dispose of the toxic waste in the Chernobyl region (Ukraine) "probably through payoffs to the decontamination there," says a classified FBI report.[3]

Money laundering and tax evasion[edit]

Until 1998, Inkombank and Bank Menatep participated in a US$10 billion money laundering scheme through the Bank of New York.[32][33][34][35] 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).[36] In the Czech Republic the scandal is estimated to have cost the taxpayers around 100 billion CZK (≈US$5 billion)[37] and involved, besides others, murders and the attempted assassination of a journalist writing about the problem.[38]

In 2003, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation placed 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.[39] 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."[39]

Mogilevich was arrested in Moscow on January 24, 2008, for suspected tax evasion.[40][41] 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".[42]

Ivan Fursin has been closely linked to Mogilevich.[43]

U.S. efforts to apprehend[edit]

A poster with photographs and identifying information of Semion Mogilevich, released by the FBI on 6 April 2022

On October 22, 2009, the FBI named Mogilevich as the 494th fugitive to be placed on the Ten Most Wanted list.[44] The Bureau removed him from the list in December 2015, indicating that 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.[45]

According to FBI reports, Mogilevich had alliances with the Camorra, in particular with Salvatore De Falco, a lower-echelon member of the Giuliano clan. Mogilevich and DeFalco would have held meetings in Prague in 1993.[46][47]

Mogilevich lives freely in Moscow, according to the FBI.[48] 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".[49]

Both Mogilevich and his associate Mikhailov ceased to travel to the West in the late 1990s.[39]

On April 6, 2022, the Bureau refreshed its effort to apprehend Mogilevich, working in tandem with United States Department of State. The State Department's Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program now offers a reward of up to $5 million for information "leading to the arrest and/or conviction" of Mogilevich.[50][51][52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In the Mykola Melnychenko recordings of 2000, Derkach, who is close to Mogilevich, states that Vladimir Putin is also very close to Mogilevich since Putin's early days in Leningrad.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b Warnock, Caroline (January 26, 2021). "Semion Mogilevich's Wife & Kids: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Archived from the original on November 11, 2021. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  2. ^ "New Top Ten - Global Con Artist". FBI. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Friedman, Robert I. (May 26, 1998). "The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  4. ^ Glenny, Misha (2008). McMafia : a journey through the global criminal underworld (1st ed.). New York: Knopf Books. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-1-4000-4411-5. OCLC 162501937.
  5. ^ Goldman, Marshall I. (2008). Petrostate : Putin, power, and the new Russia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-971257-1. OCLC 646747869.
  6. ^ Peters, Justin (August 5, 2013). "This Obese Mob Boss Is Twice the Villain Whitey Bulger Ever Was". Slate. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  7. ^ "AMW | Fugitives | Semion Mogilevich | Case". Archived from the original on March 16, 2010. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  8. ^ 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. He has denied through a lawyer any links to RosUkrEnergo, see Russia frees crime boss wanted by U.S. by Reuters.
  9. ^ Ukraine, Vanco Energy and the Russian Mob, Eurasia Daily Monitor, September 16, 2008.
  10. ^ Rachkevych, Mark (December 3, 2010). "U.S. Official: Austrian Bank's Ties to RosUkrEnergo Suspicious". Kyiv Post. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  11. ^ Weiss, Michael (March 19, 2014). "Married to the Ukrainian Mob". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on July 11, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  12. ^ Byrne, Peter (December 10, 2010). "New and conflicting details emerge over Mogilevich's alleged involvement in nation". Kyiv Post. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  13. ^ Listen: Alexander Litvinenko's apparent warning before his death By Lyndsey Telford, Edward Malnick and Claire Newell 12:00PM GMT 23 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Litvinenko Ties Putin to Crime Lord From Beyond Grave". Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  15. ^ Sterbenz, Christina (December 1, 2014). "The worst gangster most people have never heard of". Business Insider. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  16. ^ Kupchinsky, Roman (March 25, 2009). "The Strange Ties between Semion Mogilevich and Vladimir Putin". Eurasia Daily Monitor. Vol. 6, no. 57. Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  17. ^ Unger, Craig (2018). House of Trump, House of Putin : the untold story of Donald Trump and the Russian mafia. New York, New York. p. 218. ISBN 978-1-5247-4350-5. OCLC 1043342267.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  18. ^ Heffernan, Virginia (January 14, 2018). "Column: A close reading of Glenn Simpson's Trump-Russia testimony". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  19. ^ 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 p. 1.
  20. ^ "Могилевич, Семен Бизнесмен". Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  21. ^ "Семен Могилевич. Венгерское досье // Оперативная справка венгерских спецслужб в отношении Могилевича - Компромат.Ру / Compromat.Ru". Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  22. ^ Unger, Craig (July 13, 2017). "Trump's Russian Laundromat; How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House". New Republic. Archived from the original on July 13, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  23. ^ "Mogilevich: FBI behind Russia scandal". UPI. September 1, 1999. Retrieved December 2, 2022.
  24. ^ "New York court document, 2000". Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
  25. ^ "Moscow Telegraph on investigation of Inkombank management". Moscow Telegraph. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
  26. ^ "Оперативная справка венгерских спецслужб в отношении Могилевича (Могилевич Семен Юдкович: Венгерское досье)" [Operational information from the Hungarian special services regarding Mogilevich (Mogilevich Yudkovich: Hungarian dossier)]. FreeLance Bureau ( (in Russian). July 19, 2000. Archived from the original on August 26, 2001. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  27. ^ "Journal of the Czech ministry of interior, article about Russian mafias" (in Czech). Archived from the original on January 14, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
  28. ^ "Biography of Mogilevich". Lidové Noviny (in Czech). Archived from the original on November 9, 2004. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
  29. ^ Glenny (2008), pp 71–72.
  30. ^ Glenny (2008), pp 75.
  31. ^ "BBC Panorama's "The Billion Dollar Don"". BBC News. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
  32. ^ "Overview of the money laundering schemes". Archived from the original on October 5, 2006. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
  33. ^ The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 1999: "A Scheme for Ducking Taxes May Be a Key In Russia Money Probe"
  34. ^ "Testimony of Thomas Renyi, CEO of the bank, 1999". Archived from the original on September 29, 2006. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
  35. ^ "Senior manager of BoNY indicted, 2001". Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
  36. ^ "Overview of fuels scandal". Lidové Noviny (in Czech). Retrieved October 7, 2006.
  37. ^ Podvody s LTO zřejmě přišly stát na 100 miliard (Czech)
  38. ^ Nelegální obchody s LTO přinesly daňové úniky i vraždy (Czech)
  39. ^ a b c Glenny (2008), pg 77.
  40. ^ Guy Faulconbridge (January 25, 2008). "Russia detains crime boss wanted by FBI". Reuters. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  41. ^ "Semyon Mogilevich, the 'East European mafia boss', captured in Moscow". Times. January 25, 2008. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008.
  42. ^ Russia frees crime boss wanted by U.S., Reuters (July 27, 2009)
  43. ^ Betsy Woodruff (November 2, 2017). "Mueller Reveals New Manafort Link to Organized Crime". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  44. ^ "FBI — New Top Ten - Global Con Artist". FBI. Archived from the original on October 8, 2010.
  45. ^ Babay, Emily (December 17, 2015) Philly fugitive bumped off FBI 'Most Wanted' list Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  46. ^ Federal Bureau of Investigation (1996). SEMION MOGILEVICH ORGANIZATION EURASIAN ORGANIZED CRIME (1996).
  47. ^ C. Williams, Robert (January 30, 2019). Useful Assets. Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc. p. 25.
  49. ^ Glenny (2008), pg 76.
  50. ^ "FBI, State Department Announce $5 Million Reward for Fugitive Semion Mogilevich". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  51. ^ "SEMION MOGILEVICH". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  52. ^ "Department of State Offers Reward for Information to Bring Transnational Criminal to Justice". United States Department of State. Retrieved April 14, 2022.

External links[edit]