Russian Ponzi scheme guru founds party in Ukraine

Sergey Mavrodi (RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev)
Sergey Mavrodi, the brains behind Russia’s notorious ‘MMM’ Ponzi scheme, announced that he has founded a political party of the same name in the Ukraine. He promised that it would be represented in this October’s parliamentary elections.

Mavrodi announced the news in his usual manner: By posting a video on YouTube saying that the MMM party had already been established and expressing hope that the move

“would raise the combat spirits, give additional strength and confidence to all its members.”

The parliamentary campaign would also promote the MMM Ponzi scheme which is still operating in the Ukraine, he added. Ukrainian authorities did not react to the news, or provide any official confirmation of Mavrodi’s statement.

Mavrodi gained notoriety in the mid-90s when he organized the original MMM company: A Ponzi scheme that victimized millions of Russians. He was eventually put on trial and sentenced to prison for tax evasion, but maintained that the MMM crashed because of deliberate repression of the part of authorities. Mavrodi was elected to the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in 1994, and received parliamentary immunity from prosecution before losing the post in 1995.

He attempted to register as a candidate in the Russian presidential elections in 1996, but authorities turned down his application as most of the signatures in his support were forged.

Mavrodi then went on the lam until 2003, when he was arrested again and charged with tax evasion and forgery of documents (Mavrodi used a forged passport in another name). The charges of tax evasion were later dropped, but he received a 13-month jail sentence for forgery, and faced new charges in 2004 for defrauding and stealing $110 million of his clients’ money.

After a protracted court battle, he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison. By the time this sentence was announced, he had spent almost all of his prison term in pre-trial custody.

After his release, Mavrodi founded a new Ponzi scheme, dubbed MMM-2011. The new company stopped repaying interest on its securities in May 2012, and Russian prosecutors started a new criminal case against its organizers in June, charging them in absentia with attempted fraud.

Mavrodi went undercover again, and now only contacts the outside world through Youtube videos.