Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich (June 30th, 1946-) is a Ukrainian-born Russian 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. He is believed to direct a vast criminal empire and is described by the FBI as "the most dangerous mobster in the world".
Mogilevich's nicknames include "Don Semyon", and "The Brainy Don" (because of his business acumen). He is said to control RosUkrEnergo, a company currently actively involved in Russia–Ukraine gas disputes.
He is based in Moscow, Russia. He has three children and 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. He also reportedly has a good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Oleksandr Turchynov, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, went to court for allegedly destroying files pertaining to Mogilevich. Mogilevich is believed to have ordered many assassinations of his enemies across the world, including both shootings and car-bombs.
Mogilevich was born into a middle-class family. At the age of 22 he earned an advanced 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.
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. 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.
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.
In 1994, 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.Through Inkombank, in 1996 he obtained a significant share in Sukhoi, a large military aircraft manufacturer.
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. 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 and it is believed that a senior figure in the Czech police, working with the Russian mafia, had warned him. 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".
Both Mogilevich and his associate Mikhailov ceased to travel to the west in the late 1990s, although Mogilevich retains an Israeli passport. Until recently, they lived and operated in the Moscow area. 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 $1 billion on the TSX, became worthless overnight. As to Mogilevich himself, federal law enforcement agencies from throughout the world had by now been trying to prosecute him for over 10 years. But he had, in the words of one journalist, "a knack for never being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Until 1998, Inkombank and Bank Menatep participated in a US$ 10 billion money laundering scheme through the Bank of New York.
Mogilevich was also suspected of participation in large scale fraud, where untaxed heating oil was sold as highly taxed car fuel. 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). 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 still, however, considered to be perhaps 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 as 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. He was released on July 24, 2009. The Russian interior ministry stated that the charges "are not of a particularly grave nature." On October 22, 2009 he was named by the FBI as the 494th fugitive to be placed on the Ten Most Wanted list.
Crimes and villainy
- Money laundering
- Arms trafficking
- Various types of fraud
- Financing assassinations and terrorism
- Drug trafficking
- He also has several dictators in his pocket, including Vladimir Putin, Alexander Lukashenko, Viktor Yanukovych, Aleksandar Vučić, Viktor Orbán, and Benjamin Netanyahu. He also had Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Fidel Castro, and Slobodan Milošević in his pocket.