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28 Jan, 2008 02:25

'International crime lord' faces tax charge

He has more than a dozen names and is reputed to be the godfather of the Russian Mafia. For 15 years Semen Mogilevich has played a cat and mouse game with the world's intelligence services. But in the end Russian authorities finally sniffed him out during

Mogilevich was arrested in Moscow last week along with Vladimir Nekrasov, the owner of a major Russian cosmetics chain. Police say he was helping the cosmetics giant in an alleged tax scam involving  about $US two million.

But Nekrasov's lawyers deny any connection between the two men.
“Mr Mogilevich will play quite an important role in this case, because he has his own very difficult story. And very well known businessman Mr Nekrasov has nothing to do with him,” Aleksandr Dabrovinsky, Nekrasov’s Lawyer, said.
It's believed that Mogilevich's criminal career started with the collapse of the Soviet Union. He opened several companies in Hungary – all of them reportedly laundering money.
In 1995, London authorities seized an $US 80 million account  belonging to one of these companies.  Mogilevich was later barred from the UK.

He is also suspected of involvement in the sex trade in Prague, along with drugs and weapons trafficking.
Israel claim's Mogilevich illegally sold tanks and rockets to Iran, even to Islamic terrorists.

The FBI accuses the 61-year-old Russian of racketeering, various types of fraud and money laundering. Among the most serious allegations against him is laundering more than $US 10 billion through the Bank of New York.

Now in custody, Mogilevich is expected to be charged with tax evasion. And as the investigation unfolds several other charges may follow. It's believed the United States will request his extradition. But with no extradition treaty between Moscow and Washington, and the fact the Russian constitution forbids the extradition of its citizens, that seems unlikely.