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18 Feb, 2008 15:54

Accused crime boss denied bail

One of the world's most wanted crime bosses will remain in custody after a Moscow court denied him bail. Semyon Mogilevich was charged in January with evading more than $US 2 million in taxes.

The man alleged to be the head of the largest Russian mafia syndicate in the world cut a pitiful figure as he appealed for bail, claiming he was so ill he might not make it to trial.

“I have diabetes. I had an attack of the disease and they even had to call an ambulance for me. They gave me injections here in prison. And I’m suffering from high blood pressure. I may simply not live to hear the final decision of the court,” Mogilevich stated.

But his pleas fell on deaf ears.

The court has ruled that the defendant should remain in custody and  that the appeal should be rejected.

The verdict came as little surprise after bail was denied to Mogilevich’s co-defendant the previous week. 

Vladimir Nekrasov is the boss of Russian cosmetics giant Arbat Prestige and stands accused alongside Mogilevich of two million dollars worth of tax evasion. Judges took little time in rejecting his appeal and he has neither Mogilevich’s criminal record nor his notorious reputation.

The alleged mafia boss is wanted around the world for money laundering, racketeering and extortion.

Israel want to question him over illegally selling weapons to Iran, he’s been persona non grata in the UK for more than a decade and in 2003 he hit the big time, appearing on the FBI’s most wanted list.

U.S. authorities want to question him over his involvement with YBM Magnex, a billion-dollar company that collapsed overnight in 1998 and suspect him of laundering ten times that amount through the Bank of New York.

After avoiding capture for fifteen years, Moscow authorities finally arrested him last month, picking up Nekrasov on the same day and accusing him of working with Mogilevich to defraud the state.

Both men’s lawyers have denied they were ever involved together but neither has been able to secure their client’s release.

The first round of Semyon Mogilevich’s fight against these tax evasion charges has gone firmly to the Russian authorities. He now faces potentially months in prison even before his case goes to trial. If convicted he could be imprisoned for up to six years. It seems certain that the man they call Russia’s 'Brainy Don' is going to need all his wit and intelligence if he’s going to clear his name.