Interview with Semion Mogalevich "Semion Mogilevich"


MANGOLD-Can I ask you first of all how would you describe yourself,
MOGALEVICH-Professionally I’m a businessman after Perestroika’s period.
MANGOLD-And what is your business?
MOGALEVICH-Well recently it’s been concentrated with um buying and selling of
MANGOLD-What is your business?
MOGALEVICH-All the last recent years I’ve been selling grain and wheat.
MANGOLD-And that’s it, selling grain and wheat?
MOGALEVICH-Yes, at this moment, that’s the only thing, but that might finish soon
as well.
MOGALEVICH-I’m becoming too popular and selling grain and wheat is becoming a
big business with big money, and everyone knowing me, I wouldn’t - sorry.
MANGOLD-[Asks again]
MOGALEVICH-Grain and wheat that’s big sums of money going through our hands
and no-one knows, no-one wants the FBI or other organisations to come checking
whether our money is clear, and clean.
MANGOLD-Tell me about your background? What kind of background do you come
from, briefly?
MOGALEVICH-I was born in Kiev. That’s a region called Padul. My mother was a
podiastrist and my father was in the typography businessman. They both died so now
I’m alone.
MANGOLD-The Western newspapers constantly call you "the Brainy Don", do you
like that title and is it justified?
MOGALEVICH-That’s because I have - the size of my head is 62.
MANGOLD-Does it contain brain?
MOGALEVICH-No that’s just the size of my head.
MANGOLD-Are you currently married?
MANGOLD-And are you happily married? Have you got children? Are you a family
MOGALEVICH-I’m not happy any more with my family. My wife thinks she’s made
a wrong choice, and probably my son thinks so too. My daughter as well. So I think
everyone suffers - that I’m their father, or their husband. They don’t need me. My son
is being told at school that your father is a mobster. My daughter is being told, "Tell
me who your father is, and we will tell you who you are". So it’s not really working
MANGOLD-In fact, as I understand it, your criminal record comprises two offences
that we know of, and you were jailed for three years, and then four years for currency
dealing offences. Is that right? Or is-
MOGALEVICH-Yes. Twice I was in a bad situation. It was 22 years ago. My whole
life has passed since then.
MANGOLD-How much money do you earn in a good year now?
MOGALEVICH-Now have passed my tax declaration in April. April 99. It says I earn
about $10,000 a month.
MANGOLD-So that’s $120,000 a year?
MOGALEVICH-Is it much or not?
MANGOLD-You tell me.
MOGALEVICH-I feel quite satisfied and some, some is risked.
MANGOLD-And do you pay all your taxes as you should?
MOGALEVICH-If I didn’t pay my taxes, we would be talking in a jail today.
MANGOLD-Semion MOGALEVICH-, when the Soviet Union collapsed, did you
personally want to join the ranks of the new capitalist tycoons as quickly as possible?
MOGALEVICH-No I didn’t want to. And I wasn’t eager, and I didn’t hurry. After
collapse of the Soviet Union, I didn’t come here for nine years. So I wouldn’t want to
become an oligarch or a capitalist.
MANGOLD-Where were you when the Soviet Union collapsed?
MANGOLD-And you were working there, but are you by instinct a capitalist?
MANGOLD-That doesn’t answer the question. Are you also a capitalist?
MOGALEVICH-That does answer the question. I want to work less, but earn more.
And whether it’s called capitalist or socialist, I don’t know.
MANGOLD-You suddenly for whatever reason, achieved the status of an international
Al Capone. That’s quite good going for somebody who just sells wheat?
MOGALEVICH-That’s true. That’s not a word for a person who sells wheat. I don’t
know whether Al Capone was selling wheat. But I know that he did prostitution and all
this stuff, and I don’t do that.
MANGOLD-Do you think, just let me ask you to look into the future. Al Capone was
eventually brought down for tax reasons. Do you think the same could happen to you?
MOGALEVICH-Yes I read about it. No, that can’t happen to me, because I do pay
MANGOLD-Because you do pay taxes?
MOGALEVICH-Yes. Apparently I do pay taxes. I pay them accurately. And sleep
very calmly.
MANGOLD-What are you worth, if you put all your assets together, around the world,
if you put them all together, and converted them into US dollars, what would your
worth be?
MOGALEVICH-That’s very difficult mathematics, arithmetic. But for a customer, I
think quite enough. Quite a lot.
MANGOLD-Semion MOGALEVICH-, I know exactly what I’m worth, why don’t you
know what you’re worth?
MOGALEVICH-I don’t even know what you mean worth. In American dollars, or in
British pounds?
MANGOLD-Just take all your assets and convert them all into US dollars. What are
you worth?
MOGALEVICH-I don’t like American dollars. I’m not used to it. While we are talking
the money is still going. Keeps flowing in
MANGOLD-I’m prepared to allow you to evade that particular question
MOGALEVICH-I’m just calculating. I need a piece of paper and a big calculator.
MANGOLD-How big a calculator?
MOGALEVICH-11 positions. I want it to make precise.
MANGOLD-I want to ask you a very, very serious question. The Russian Ministry of
Interior Files, Dept No. 6, refer to you as an Avtoriestet - forgive the bad use of the
word. You are said by them to be one of the top crime bosses in Russia, and an
authority on Russian organised crime. Let me quote from the report; you are said to be
a financier who runs prostitution, gambling and money laundering. Would your own
people, the Russians, say this if it is not true?
MOGALEVICH-Yes really Russians can’t lie. They always tell the truth, and they
always have - they frequently take it from Americans. How can they know it if I lived
nine years outside of Russia? Avtoriestet is a person whom people respect in Russia
traditionally. These are just words, they don’t have documents, proving that. And the
people saying it understand nothing.
MANGOLD-Are you categorically denying all those allegations by the Russian
Ministry of the Interior?
MOGALEVICH-Of Russia? Is it Interior Ministry of Russia?
MANGOLD-Yes. Dept No. 6
MOGALEVICH-The Russians are really being modest. They’re alleging only three
things against me; gambling, and the ones that you said. The Americans would have
done much more. They would also write about corruption, about money-laundering,
about helping criminal structures and more.
MANGOLD-The question was not about the Americans. The question was whether
you categorically deny what the Russians say about you?
MOGALEVICH-What they wrote in this report is what they read in the newspapers.
Because they can’t really come up to me and ask me whether it’s all true. That’s why
they have to say at least something, so they say what the official of Interior Ministry
says from what he can and what he knows from the newspapers and mass media.
MANGOLD-I’m listening very carefully to the use of language here, and I still haven’t
heard a categorical denial of these specific allegations.
MOGALEVICH-Yes absolutely. Categorically I do deny it.
MANGOLD-Does the fact that you have never been caught in connection with a major
organised crime mean you have never broken the law?
MANGOLD-A confidential 1995 FBI report - and we’ll come back to that in a minute
- but one of the things it says that you are connected to the so-called " I’m going to do
my best here " Solsneskaya organisation. True or untrue?
MOGALEVICH-I’ll say more. The FBI report for 1994 and 1996, I read about it. And
I heard about it. When I lived in Russia, I really lived in region of Solseva, but that
doesn’t mean I belong to Solseva organisation. The police official who stops me, he
can live in region of Kunseva, does he mean he is one of the Kunseva organisation? I
just lived in Solseva, that doesn’t mean I was one of them.
MANGOLD-So that’s a denial?
MOGALEVICH-No I just say that I lived in Solseva region of Moscow. No
categorically, I don’t belong to Solseva.
MANGOLD-Do have you had access to that FBI report?
MANGOLD-How did you get that?
MOGALEVICH-My friends brought it to me.
MANGOLD-What kind of friends?
MOGALEVICH-You want names, addresses and telephones?
MANGOLD-It’s a confidential-
MOGALEVICH-It was just my friends from Russia, who brought me documents and
said, -Look what your the FBI report says about you.
MANGOLD-How did they get it?
MOGALEVICH-Probably they were given by their friends.
MANGOLD-And how did their friends get it?
MOGALEVICH-Probably they were writing them themselves. Probably one of those
who was writing the document, he gave it out to different countries, to the same
structures, and probably there were some of my friends who brought it to me.
MANGOLD-They must have had good friends in criminal intelligence?
MANGOLD-It is the most damning report on any one person, that I have ever read. If
you are, as you say, a humble businessman, who sells wheat, how on earth was that
report ever put together?
The thing is that the author of this document has to really have a good inventive
brain. If at least one fact was proved, at least once during last 20 years, I would have
been called to the police station.
You talk about the author of the report, in fact the report is the compilation of
Russian, German, Italian, and United States intelligence and criminal intelligence
I think it’s a bit different, that’s a compilation of different newspapers, some
different talented writers.
MANGOLD-No it’s not the compilation of newspapers. At the time that report was published
there was nothing published in the newspapers, making the allegations they make.
This is not trial by television, but people will be astonished that four nations,
including your own, have got together to produce this damning report, and I wonder
quite seriously why you think that has happened?
What do you wonder seriously?
What do you wonder seriously?
MANGOLD-I wonder why you think they put this report together?
MOGALEVICH-They are making a mountain out of a molehill. All those countries you’ve
mentioned, or even more, they gather together and put together these allegations.
But over the twenty or five years - I don’t know how long they’ve been working on
it - they didn’t finish their job. Not one police officer called me to the police station
and asked me at least one question. So I still insist that it’s just news or mass media,
We have a saying in England, there’s no smoke without fire. And the Americans
have a saying, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
Are we to assume that report is fiction from beginning to end?
The thing is that the British newspapers, and the BBC, they were the first to
announce in the money laundering scandal my name and that of a company Benex.
And the FBI has taken this report of British intelligence service, as a base of their
document, but since then no-one has ever said that I’m such a big and bad guy.
So are you are denying everything in that FBI report?
No my name is written there only with one mistake. The rest is really wrong
Why you? Why should the Russians, the Germans, the Italians, the British and the
Americans and the Israelis, all get together and put the finger on you?
It’s difficult to say. I have met neither Italians, neither Italians - none of them, as I
haven’t taken part in that summit. So it’s difficult to say. I’ve learnt it only from
newspapers that I’m a money laundering man, that I sell drugs, about all this, about
prostitution, I learn about from newspapers.
But we’re not talking about newspaper reports now, we’re talking about at least five
or six nations getting together, sharing their criminal intelligence and coming to the
conclusion that you are one of the biggest mobsters in the world. How can that be?
But I really haven’t ever heard from a single police officer, low or high rank, that I
am a criminal. I’ve been travelling round the world, five times in Italy, ten times in
Germany, several times in Britain, and none of those police departments said I was a
criminal. I was banned from entering France in 1997. But in May 99, I was allowed
to enter France again as the allegations weren’t proved.
You are the subject of an exclusion order, in other words, you are banned from
Britain, and you are banned from the United States. Why is that?
Ok, I wasn’t banned. In 1995, the British Home Secretary wrote me a letter saying
that my presence in Great Britain didn’t help the British people in any way. I wasn’t
banned from there. And the last time I was in the States was in 1997.
You are the subject of an exclusion order, which means you would not be allowed
into the United Kingdom again.
I don’t want to go there. I saw all the things I wanted to see.
Why should they ban an innocent man?
In 1995, a British detective John Wanless - maybe I pronounce his name badly - had
an order to arrest me - he had the accounts of a British company - but a year later he
denounced all his allegations and he returned all the money. The whole business was
closed although they did not apologise, but then I received this letter on the 7th of
August, saying that my presence in the country didn’t help the British people. Well I
don’t mind. I’ve seen everything I wanted, so why should I go there again?

Can I ask you about your relationship to two people who are well-known here in
Russia and throughout the world. The first one is-

You can ask whatever you want to.

Fine. The first one is Biatraslav Ivankov. Do you know him?

Only from newspapers. When I came to Moscow Ivankov was in prison. When I left
Moscow, five years after that, he was still sitting in jail. When I came to the United
States I went to New York. Ivankov wasn’t in the States yet.

Have you ever -

And then I went to California, and he lived in New York. And there is no proof of
my meeting or talk with Ivankov.

Have you, yes or no, ever met or spoken to him?

No, never saw, never spoken, never met.

Why then was he your business partner in Arbat International?

It was funded in a year when Ivankov had already been in prison for a long time.
How could he have been my partner in that company?

Did he ever have a relationship with Arbat International?

Yes of course.

But you never met him?

No, he was in prison.

But he still had a relationship with Arbat?

Arbat is my company. What does Ivankov have to do with it?

Did he have a relationship with Arbat International?

No, he never did. In the founding documents of Arbat International, there is no
mention of Ivankov. There are only five people who were my partners in my whole

Do you know Sergei Mihaelov?

Yes, of course.

And you’ve worked with him and done business with him?

He worked with me, not me with him.

Mr Mihaelov was charged with very serious offences in Switzerland.

Yes I know about it.

Was he guilty or innocent?

If I said innocent, no-one would believe me. But he was found not guilty, Mr
Mihaelov, of all the allegations.

You do appreciate that in your case, in the United Kingdom, and in Mr Mihaelov’s
case in Switzerland, it is said that it was the Russian authorities who failed to
provide evidence that allowed both you and Mr Mihaelov to be found innocent?


Maybe the Russians should have invented the evidence. Then probably there was no
crime. If the situation happened the other way round, for example, that the British
were not giving any evidence to -

Are you and Mr Mihaelov, are you lucky? Are you clever? Or are you innocent?

I don’t want to speak about Mihaelov. I’m certainly not a baby. I do have some
things I feel guilty about, but I’m certainly not guilty of the things that the Italians,
Germans, and others are ascribing to me. Otherwise I would already be in prison.
They would certainly arrest me if there was a crime.

Has the world misjudged you, Semion MOGALEVICH-? Has there been a terrible
mistake about you? Are you just a completely innocent and nice guy?

Yes, I’m really a nice guy. It’s a provocative question, but yes, I’m really a nice guy.
And I really didn’t do any crime in my life. And that’s a mistake, a misjudgement of
the intelligence services.

Why have you been banned from entering the United States?

I was never told that the United States banned me from entering their country. I was
there in 1997, and since then I just didn’t need to go there. But no-one has told me
that I’m banned from entering.

Did you know that President Clinton had issued what’s known as a Presidential
Decision Directive, to fight organised crime And that is the reason why you are
persona non grata in the United States.

Then I just won’t go to the United States. The country where a President could sleep
with his secretary is not a country where I would like to go.

I want to talk to you very briefly about the Bank of New York

Why briefly? We can talk about that hours and hours.


Because I suspect that you wont have very much to say. Let’s just talk about the
London connection, Do you personally know Peter Berlin, or his wife Lucy

Only from newspapers.

You never met them?


Has Mr Berlin ever been a business partner of yours?

No, he wasn’t my business partner.

Do you have any connection with or knowledge of Benex Worldwide Ltd?

From newspapers.

You have no connection?

No, they are a company which deals with visas, with organising visas, but I did not
need to get in touch with them as I have a life-long visa to the United States. I didn’t
need their services.

Is it a coincidence that when the accounts of YBM Magnex were examined, they
found as long list of fictitious customers, one of which was Benex International
Forests. Any connection with your Benex companies?

I don’t know because that’s the third Benex company I’ve heard about. I’ve stopped
working for YBM. Since May 99, Ernst and Young have been dealing with it so
maybe you should talk to them.

Can I switch to the Czech Republic? Have you been there?

Many times.


According to a 1994 British intelligence report, the British said you were organising
black markets from the former Soviet republics, which included dealing in weapons,
including heavy calibre weapons, drugs and precious stones. Why would they write

Probably they have pictures of me selling arms, or they have recorded phone calls of
me ordering to sell drugs, or painting the market into a black colour. But why don’t
they want to give that evidence to Americans? That’s absolutely incomprehensive.

That’s a categorical denial is it?

Why would I have categorically denied it? If there was a crime, if someone was
selling arms, and they would say, “It was you who did it”. I would say, “Please
prove it”. But if there was a crime they could connect me with, and if it were
possible to prove it, then they would accuse me personally, but they never did.

Are you saying, I’m trying to kind of decode what you’re saying here. Are you
saying, the truth is I’ve never been caught, therefore all these allegations are

No I’m saying I’m sure that the fact of this crime doesn’t exist. If there was no crime
then there was no me; what brilliance can we talk about? For example, if the Czech
intelligence service put the whole bunch of brilliance on the table and said listen and
look, this is what MOGALEVICH- did, then this would be a fact. If they did the
same thing with the arms - but there was no facts, so I think all these intelligence
services, including the Czechs and Russians, would find another way of connecting
me to that crime. And put me in jail for at least getting back, you know, a small
amount of money which they wasted on chasing me for things I never did.

Mr MOGALEVICH-, why is everybody conspiring against you? What is the reason?

I can’t understand this and I can’t-

You must, you must have a thought in the back in your hea

There is a thought; I’ve already mentioned it.

Which is what?

I talked to some newspaper journalists already. When the people from the
intelligence services come and go and the file on MOGALEVICH- stays there, but
they never take it. In all those documents – How can I explain that no-one from the
police called to those people I was alleged of killing, and they’re still alive. And in
the Village Voice, Friedman described how horribly I killed them, and no-one is
interested that those people are still alive, and no-one is actually trying to find that
out. How can I explain that? If you take a book, a telephone book, it will list the
phone of a guy that I killed in 1994, and he’s the owner of a club, call that number,
you could talk to Maximo, who is the owner of a bank and I killed that guy as well,
as it turns out. How can I explain that?

Yes, I hear the denial, what I want to ask you again is this, because the whole thing
must be like something out of Kafka for you, my question again is why you? Why
have you been targeted? Why does your name come up in every single country? East
and West. I don’t know, you must have an idea?

I do have some thoughts, but they are not proving anything. And the television
viewers won’t believe me.

Give me your thoughts?

It’s a difficult internal thought. I just want to say to those people who are watching
this television programme that I was never guilty of those crimes that newspapers
write about and that I’m being accused of. I didn’t do any of the crimes detailed
there. You can believe me, if I had done there wouldn’t be a place on earth where I
could hide as the whole world is investigating the things that are being written in
those reports.

You’ve never laundered a penny?

I won court cases against three television companies and two newspapers. It was a
month ago.

So you’ve never laundered money since your childhood escapades?

I won those court cases and they were writing about me over five years, every article
at least a page, and they did print a denial, but it was just four lines at the back of the
paper, small lines, and I spent a whole lot of money, on those court things. Why
would I waste any money if no-one believes me?

Well, let me just ask you again. In the last 15 years, have you laundered a single

Yes I was asked about that in a newspaper interview. I washed a shirt where in a
pocket there were $5-

Is that a no?

But they just became lighter -

I know the story, is that a no?

Of course no.

Have you run a prostitute in the last 15 or 20 years?

I was in Hamburg where I saw prostitutes from the window and I said sorry to my
wife, I was looking, I was, you know, contemplating them very, very carefully. But
if I sell drugs, arms, antiques, why would I need prostitutes? Or is prostitution such
a big money spinner?

We have drifted away from the Czech Republic. Do you remember the U Holubu

Yes of course.

On May 31st 1995 the police raided that restaurant. The owner of the restaurant,
Anatole Katrich, were you his boss, or was he your boss?


I’ll explain. The restaurant building belonged to me and I was renting it out to those
companies. There was a Japanese restaurant, a French restaurant, a casino, a disco, a
night club. I was just getting money from the rents on this building. The building
belonged to me, but not the businesses within it. Katrich was a manager of one of
the companies that had business in the building.

This restaurant U Holubu was owned by the Arigon company in Czechoslovakia?.

Yes, U Holubu was owned by them.

And that Arigon was a subsidiary of the British Arigon company?

No, it was another Arigon company which was acquired by some Czech or other.
Arigon Company Ltd. It was acquired by a Czech in 1993, I think.

Now just tell me if I am right about this. The police raid took place on May 31st,
May 31st 1995. And they raided the restaurant because two Russian-speaking
criminal groups - one from Moscow and one from the Ukraine - were meeting there.

This is whose allegation?

That was said by criminal intelligence.

Yes, on May the 31st 1995, my comrade Victor Averin had his 38th birthday. And
he got together his friends, who had agreed this with him, and their wives and
children, to celebrate his birthday in the Czech Republic at the U Holubu restaurant.

Were you intending to go? Were you intending to go to that party?


And were you tipped off by the police that you were going to be knocked off?


Why didn't you go?


I was flying in from Israel on the day of his birthday and I had to change planes in
Vienna. For some reason, the plane was running more than 45 minutes late. I was
meant to be at the restaurant for 9.30pm, that's what we'd agreed over the phone. At
10.45pm I had only just landed. By the time I arrived at 'U Holubu', the raid was
already in full swing. I went to the neighbouring hotel and sat in the bar there until
about five or six in the morning. Then I got in a taxi and went to Budapest.

You were lucky weren't you, not to be there when everybody was arrested?

You haven't understood. I flew over from Israel, I should have been there by
9.30pm. But the plane from Vienna didn't land until 10.45pm. There was a problem
with the pilot. And that's how I ended up being late for the spectacle.

Were you ever tipped off that somebody might want to kill you there?

No-one had even the faintest idea. The thing was that out of all the staff and guests,
80 people were arrested. This involved the participation of 200 special-duty police
as well as helicopters. After surrounding the building, firing shots at it, covering all
the doors and all that, they found no criminal evidence on any of those present, nor
in the building or outside in the street, despite the fact that they had brought along
vehicles for transporting corpses and radioactive materials. They thought that all
Russian birthday parties were attended by the kind of people who could easily be
carrying 100 grams of radioactive material on them, however uncomfortable that
might be! They didn't think that Russians could have a party without there being
some corpses! They took great pains to prepare themselves. Helicopters were flying
all over the town, it was a very beautiful sight. They released everyone at five in the

For a humble businessman, you do have quite a lot of friends who seem to be
associated with the criminal world.

Well, the thing is that I have a lot of friends and they aren't all connected with the
criminal world. Many of them are poets, writers, journalists from regional
publications, chefs, academics. Well, some of those academics have connections
with the criminal world, according to the newspapers.

And is that just a coincidence that you know some people who have connections
with the criminal world?

No, it isn't a coincidence. What is a coincidence? The thing is that any such
connections with the criminal world, have been alleged by the American secret
service and by journalists. But in the same way that they write such horrible things
and tell all these lies about me, I think what they write about these other people is
also lies. But there are those friends who are from the criminal world, or
acquaintances at any rate.

Do you know Monya Elson, do you know Mr Monya Elson?

Monya Elson, yes, yes.

Is he a criminal?

Well, if you have evidence from a court that he's a criminal, then he's a criminal!

So he's one of your friends?

He's one of my friends. But he hasn't yet been convicted. He is in prison awaiting

He is very, very fond of you.

My feelings for him are no less than his for me.

And you've tried to help him.

How? Help him escape from jail?

I am going to leave New York and take you to Britain.

Go on then!

Why did you set up companies in the Channel Islands?

The problem was that I didn't know any other islands. When they taught us
geography at school, I was sick that day.

What made you choose that location?

I didn't choose it. I bought an off-the-shelf company.

And it happened to be an off-shore company?

No, I wanted an off-shore company.


To pay less taxes.

Did you try to launder any money through that company?

No, of course not.

You just didn't want to pay taxes.

I'm sure that you have no great desire to pay taxes either!

You had a relationship with a firm of solicitors in London called Blakes.


And it is said that a hundred files were seized from Blakes' offices and they showed
substantial financial transactions conducted by, quote: "the MOGALEVICH-

It was Blakes who did that. I don't understand the question, was it Blakes who did

No, it was Blakes who handled the transactions and you were involved in these; let
me put it this way -

Go on.

It is said that your money was placed into clients' accounts that Blakes had set up. It
enabled three companies including Arigon Ltd. Is that true?


Yes, there were transactions involving Arigon Ltd. But all of these transactions were
crystal clear and the English prosecution vindicated itself and withdrew the charge.
That naturally meant that Arigon Ltd. was one of the best and purest companies.

The Moscow police told Scotland Yard that some $3 million in Royal Bank of
Scotland accounts came from a fraud involving food contracts for the Russian


Are you happy with that question?

Go on!

$3.3 million in the Royal Bank of Scotland accounts came from a fraud involving
food contracts for the Russian government.

That is entirely possible. In 1995, in 1995 the English prosecution began
investigating the activities of the Arigon company and they found that the Arigon
company was transparent. All the charges were withdrawn.

So that story's not true? Was any of your money laundered through these accounts?

If something like that came to light, the money would have been seized.

Can I just establish a personal relationship here. I believe that Adrian Chuchward's
wife, Galina, is the mother of your son, Yuri.

Galina. Yes, that is true.

Did you ever call Scotland Yard during that inquiry?

I sent a fax.

What did you say?


I offered Mr Ron Wise - it was on May the 25th 1995 - I told Mr Ron Wise that I
was prepared to fly to England in the presence of my lawyer in order to give him an
explanation for every cent that had passed through the Arigon company.

Did you get a reply?

Yes. I sent my fax on the 25th and on the 26th, Mr Ron Wise issued a warrant for
my arrest.

May I talk about Britain. You've been to Britain, haven't you?

Many times.

Do you like it?

Very much.

Would you like to come here?

It's hypothetical, because I no longer can.

Why don't you write to the Home Secretary and ask him to take away the exclusion
order? Will you ask the British to withdraw that exclusion order?

My lawyer, whom I consulted over this, told me that it would be virtually
impossible, in as much as he knows of no previous case where such an order has
been withdrawn. It would simply be a waste of money. I recently changed my
lawyer in America and that is what he advised me.

Robert Friedman. What did you feel when you read his article? What did you feel
after you read his article in the Village Voice?

Nothing. It wasn't the first. A similar terrible kind of article had been written six
months previously, an identical article had been written in a newspaper, Schitiemich,
in a Russian newspaper. The article was called 'Clan'. It was duplicated in full.

Did you wish him harm after you'd read it?

Why? He is just one of 50 or 60 journalists who have written about me. I didn't even
pay any attention to it.

Did you in any telephone call suggest or indicate that the world would be a better
place if Friedman were dead?

No, no! I think that this is what you want to allege! No, why would I?

How is it then that the Americans, for it was the Americans, intercepted a phone call
in which they say you placed a contract on his life?

I don't think that ever happened either. The thing is that I am 54 years old. At that
time, I was 53. And, in the course of these five years, all the newspapers have been
saying that the secret services are monitoring my telephone conversations and my
movements. But at 53 years old, am I going to say over the phone, “Kill Friedman
and here's 100,000”. Of course not. That's sheer stupidity! It's something that
Friedman invented so as to make himself look more interesting.

You may be 11 years younger than me, but you are an experienced and mature man.
If you were going to place a contract on someone's life, you would not use the phone
that you think is being tapped. You would use the phone you hope is not being

But why use the telephone? I'd write it in blood on a serviette! You tell me!

You see, Mr MOGALEVICH-, why should people say to me that call was
intercepted, the details were given to the FBI and the FBI warned Mr Friedman?
Why should this fiction be created if it's not true?

Mr Friedman was a small-time journalist, on a small-time newspaper. After the
'contract' was taken out on Friedman, he appeared on CNN, on the BBC, in the
Washington Post, the New York Times. Now he's writing a book about how the
Russian mafia wanted to kill him! He has now become an authority on
MOGALEVICH- and on contract killings!

How strange, here’s somebody else who sees you as a big target.

Friedman? Moody, Levinson, Friedman. Vangleis.

Why is it that all these disparate, different people pick on you? I look at you and I
don't see a victim. So why do people pick on you?

It is because I smoke so much. Davidoff cigarettes.

You hint at a reason for this, but you don't voice it.

The thing is, how does one show it? Well? Should I beat my fists against my chest
and roll my eyes? Isn’t that like a victim?

You told me that you know Monya Elson. Now here's another man who says, “My
friend Semion MOGALEVICH- is one of the most powerful mobsters in the world.”
He's your pal, why does he say that?

He must have said it because he thought that it would benefit him in some way. He
was clearly in need of some benefit. I don't think that Monya Elson really said that.
That's my opinion.

Is he still your friend?

For a start, I wouldn't say that he was my friend, more an acquaintance.

Do you have a message for Mr Friedman?

Why did he invent such a high price for his life? $100,000 - that's immodest on his
part! $100,000 - that's only for presidents of large companies, like you see in
American films!

I have to tell you that he didn’t find the incident amusing.

Him? He invented it himself!

And do you think he did it just for personal gain?

I am certain of it. He was gaining momentum in order to be the main hero of this
future book of his. Self-promotion.

I’d like to talk to you about YBM Magnex.

Fire away.

You were identified as a company founder and a significant shareholder to YBM

I was indeed the founder of the company, but I sold all my shares in 1996.

I know that. But in the beginning, you were a significant shareholder. You held I
believe a third of the shares together with four friends, including Mr Sergei

Yes - no, that's exceptional. The thing was that all the main founders who were in
Arbat International were shareholders, as well as all those people who were founders
of the Arigon company. All of those people, along with myself, were shareholders.
Only I sold my shares in 1996/97.

Yes, I know, but I am just trying to check that before you sold your shares, you and
your friends held about one third of the shares.

Yes, my friends and I held a considerable quantity of shares. I don’t know if it was a
third, maybe it was more, maybe it was less, but it was considerable. I personally
owned less than 5% of them.

Your personal share was less than 5%?

Yes, I counted on that not attracting the commission.

Now, there is another link between you and YBM, which is through a company
called Technology Distribution, which acted as sales agent for YBM’s Cayman
Island subsidiary, which was called United Trade. Are those facts correct?

Yes, almost, almost. You have the names of the companies correct. But there are no
connections between these companies and my companies, and there never have been


Well, according to Pinkerton Investigation Services of New York, you were given
signing authority over Technology's bank accounts in 1994.

Signing authority, yes, yes.

Now, I don't want to go into too much detail here, but tell me this: Pinkerton say that
when they visited Technology Distribution in Hungary, there were several guards at
the gate carrying Uzis, Berettas, revolvers. What was all that about?

Machine guns - that isn’t true! They're banned. Only revolvers are allowed.

What kind of guns? And why were they carrying revolvers?

It wasn’t me. They arrived at the building office which is rented by many different
companies, where Technology Distribution is based. And at the entrance there is a
guard, official police guards who have revolvers. Here in Moscow, you see guards
with revolvers standing outside all the offices and nobody is the slightest bit
surprised by this.

To defend against who?

I don't know, against criminals. There is a lot of property inside them. There is
money, expensive equipment, there are people, businesses, so do you protect
business in some way or not?

Now, United Trade was one of your companies, was one of YBM's companies in the
Cayman Islands.

No, you’re wrong. United Trade was never one of my companies. When I worked
for YBM, United Trade did not exist. When I worked for the YBM company, United
Trade did not exist.

When was United Trade formed?

Well, you'd have to look at the paperwork. I think it was somewhere around 1995 or

Was YBM ever used for any form of money-laundering with your knowledge or
without your knowledge?

I left the YBM company in October 1994. In 10 days time, that will have been five
years ago. 1994. And what happened after that I don’t know, but I don’t think that
anyone there was laundering money.

Well, during your period with the company, according to the auditors who went in
after the company collapsed, there was ample evidence of links between YBM
Magnex and organised crime. And $18 million alone was found in United Trade in
the Cayman Islands.

Maybe it is the translation, I don’t know. I don’t know what you’re trying to say.
Maybe you could phrase the question differently. I don’t understand what you’re
getting at.

What happened was that the company collapsed after the FBI closed it down in
1998. When the auditors went in and looked at the books, they found tremendous
evidence of money-laundering and - try this for translation - olfashioned hanky-

Well, if they found olfashioned hanky-panky then it’s up to them to prove it.
Unfortunately I don’t have access to FBI files, but I think it unlikely. There would
have been no sense in them doing that. The company made $30 million a year
according to the accounts. Hanky-panky would have made no sense. That's what the
company made each year, honestly. Before I left, the company was worth $1 billion,
$960 million. What sense would there have been in there being any hanky-panky
going on?

Why did you leave YBM? Why did you sell your shares?

The thing is, when I left the company, I had to start a business and I needed money
for that. Grain is expensive. You need to turn round an income. The more money
you turn round, the more you need to start up with. I needed money and I sold my

You knew Jacob Bogatin?

Of course.

And you know of course that he is no stranger to Russian organised crime?

Jacob Bogatin? Well, that depends on what you mean by organised crime. The thing
is that maybe in the professorial circles where Jacob Bogatin teaches, the University
of Saratov, he is a Doctor of Science, a professor of metallurgy, he is known by all
the metallurgists in Russia, maybe it's an organised crime group of metallurgists.

No, what I mean is his brother David is currently serving eight years in New York
for a multi-million dollar gasoline tax fraud.

Yes. Well, his brother became a criminal in America. In Russia, he was an ordinary
person, so I don’t think that anyone handed him over. It’s America which provokes
crime. That's the kind of country it is. That's why I don't live there!

You think that David Bogatin was provoked into a gasoline tax fraud scheme?

If he did get involved in that, then something must have forced him to. If it had been
me, I wouldn't have done it!

YBM Magnex bought a firm in Sheffield in England, yes?

In order to offend Ron Wise. No, don't worry! Why was it bought? Because it was a
business that would bring benefits with it.

So you bought the factory?

Between 1992 and 1994, I built that factory. That company. I left in October 1994
and I only know about any subsequent steps taken by the company from reading the
company reports.

Have I got this right? You bought the company?

Which one?

The Sheffield company.

I didn't buy it, YBM bought it. At that point, I had nothing to do with YBM. The
purchase was made in about 1996 or 1997. I left the company in October 1994.

The Toronto Stock Exchange states quite officially that you manipulated the shares
of YBM. Is that true or not true?

Yes, the Toronto Stock Exchange, yes. And who alleges this?

The Toronto Stock Exchange.

But ‘Toronto Stock Exchange’ are just words. The Toronto Stock Exchange is made
up of thousands of brokers, thousands of managers. Who made the allegation? Some
journalist or other or some police officer? Were you there?

No. It's in the official report on the YBM Magnex debacle.

No it can't be in the official report on Magnex. It might be in the official
investigation report, but that's unlikely. The fact is, I left the company in October
1994. In 1996 I sold my shares and I had nothing more to do with the company.
Why? I'll explain why I left in 1994. Perhaps I can explain all the rest to you. Is that
what you want?

Yes, well, you told me. You said it was to raise money.

In September or August of 1994, two Hungarian and four Russian prostitutes were
murdered in Frankfurt. Although the murderer was caught three or four days later,
all the German and Hungarian newspapers and also the television portrayed me as
being the murderer. They showed my photograph. The television stations began
photographing the YBM Magnex company. I was asked to leave because I was
destroying the company’s image. So I left. The murderer was caught. For 40 days,
all the newspapers and the television stations were saying that I had done it. But not
once did the police summon me. And that’s all there is to it. I left the company in
1994, in October. But why does everyone say that I was running the company at that
time, when I wasn't running it?

Let me take up this point with you.

Go ahead.

In 1998, a Hungarian restaurant owner, Tamas Boros -

You mean Tomas Boros, who got blown up on July the 2nd 1998 -

Hang on, let me just ask the question. He was murdered by a car bomb -

He got blown up -

Killed by a car bomb -

Yes, there was a bomb in the car, he got blown up. Tomas Boros.

He was giving evidence to the police about you.

Why hadn't the police arrested me then? They hadn't even questioned me.

Did you have anything to do with his murder?

Absolutely not!

Did you wish him dead?

I was totally indifferent to him, I didn't know him and I'd never seen him.

Were you angry that he was giving the police information about you?

I only found out about that after his death. But in addition to myself, there were 20
politicians and 50 other people who also figured in the case. So why was it me who
killed him and not one of those 50 other people or those 20 politicians?

Was it in your interest that he died, was it fortunate for you?

Look, I didn’t know the man. It wasn’t my line of business. Boros and his friends
were selling oil products in Hungary. I was selling wheat.


Well, hang on, you weren't selling wheat. Just a minute, just a minute. You were
running the Black and White Nightclub, you weren't selling wheat. Or you were
running the nightclub and selling wheat?

I bought the nightclub premises in 1991 and rented them out. But by January 1993, I
had already sold it. Boros was murdered in 1998.

What were you doing in Hungary after you sold the Black and White Nightclub?

I began building a factory. I built the Magnex factory.

You started Magnex?


Are you aware that the man who is in prison for making the bomb that killed Boros
says he made it for a Ukrainian born Israeli who ran a nightclub in Budapest. That's
you isn't it?

Why? I know at least five other Israelis of Ukrainian origin. I don't know whether
they own nightclubs or not, but you can find out. The thing is that if this man made
the allegation and the police believed him, or if there was something which
confirmed what he said, then they ought at least to have questioned me.

Well, it's just a coincidence.

I’m not sure that it is a coincidence, but I’m sure that if that’s what he said, then he
had me in mind. The thing is I know the people for whom the bomb was made and
that they were put on trial. A month later, the investigation was over and all the
details about how the bomb was made, who made it, and for whom it was made
came to light. I am certain that as well as saying that it was a Ukrainian with an
Israeli passport, they also have that person's first name and surname. And I know for
certain that the name of the person who is referred to in those documents, that
person is me. About the nightclub, I don't know. But as regards the Ukrainian with
an Israeli passport, that much is certain, and they even gave the first name and the
surname of the person for whom the bomb was made - but that person wasn't me.

You love Hungary, don't you?

Very much.

Why have you left?

I have come to Moscow on business. I only returned from Hungary a week ago.

Are you aware that you are being investigated by the Hungarian tax authorities?

The thing is that it is the fourth time that the Hungarian tax authorities, at the request
of the American Secret Service according to the newspapers, have once again
checked the Magnex company, a company that has gone through five audits by
Deloitte & Touche. It’s been inspected by all the tax services five or six times in
succession. For the last five months, they have been on the fourth lap of their
inspection of that company. And the press secretary made a statement on television
to the effect that the only thing they were unable to find, or so they think today - this
was 2 weeks ago - was a fine of 2 million florins, that is $10,000. It was for some
tax or other. But here again, this was for the period 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, not for
the period during which I was president of the company. And the companies which I
ran in Hungary have already passed the five or six inspections carried out by the tax
inspector and all and sundry. And I think that if over a period of five years, along
with the Americans, the Germans, the Italians and the French, they have been
investigating my activities, then Al Pacino immediately springs to mind, because the
first thing they got Pacino on was taxes. But I pay my taxes and I sleep with a clear
conscience at night.

Not Al Pacino, Al Capone.

Al Capone, excuse me. All those Italian names sound the same to me. Al Pacino
doesn't pay all his taxes either. Of that I'm certain.

Did you buy and sell arms in Hungary?


No. I didn't buy or sell arms in Hungary. I acquired a munitions factory from the
Hungarian state. That was in 1992. And five months later, in 1992, I realised that the
Hungarian state had swindled me and I sold it. And from 1992 onwards right up to
the present, both during and after my time there, that factory has not sold one single
armament. I paid $9 million for it and I lost $500,000 on the transaction, and I
consider the moment I sold it to have been the happiest day of my life.

You bought the factory for $9 million?

$9 million. Nine, nine, but in cash. Bank credits. A down payment from the Arigon
company plus bank credits. I am a European businessman.

A very successful businessman. $9 million is £6 million is...

I was, I was, yes!

I am full of respect. $9 million is a lot of money.

It's a great deal.

The picture you paint of yourself is not of a man who buys things for $9 million.

Why? Should it be more or less?

I just wonder how one gets $9 million. How did you make $9 million?

Would you like to be the subject of investigation by all the world's journalists? If
you want to swap your peaceful way of life as a journalist for $9 million, I'll give
you some tips as to how to go about it.

I am intrigued by anyone who can raise $9 million on his own.

It's easy.

Especially if he just deals in wheat.


Incidentally, flour is also a very expensive pleasure. These days, roughly speaking,
a tonne of flour costs somewhere in the region of $250. And given that you need
thousands of tonnes, it's very big money. 20,000 tonnes of flour is $5 million. And
200,000 tonnes of flour is $50 million.

How did you manage to raise $9 million to buy the arms factory? Did any of that
money come from the Black and White Nightclub?

No. The rent there is only $10,000 a month.

$10,000 a month?


And how was that money earned? Was it from drinks, was it from what?

Naturally. The $10,000? No, I was renting it out. The premises belongs to me and I
rented it out for $10,000 a month.

Were there prostitutes in the club?

I think it unlikely, it was a topless bar.

Did the girls go to bed with clients?

There weren't any beds there. It was a standing bar, with tables.

There were no beds? Did they go to bed with the clients after the clients left the

I think it unlikely. I think Hungarian girls have high morals.

So Hungarians don't like sex?

They may well like it, but in a more legal manner.

And are you telling me Hungarians never pay for sex?

I have never come across it, and I’ve never taken money for that kind of thing.

But could money have come in which came from prostitution, perhaps without your
being aware?

It's unlikely. The vice police, who control the club and who gave it a licence, have a
representative there on a permanent basis.

And policemen never take bribes?

The Hungarian police seldom do. I have heard that they are even more scrupulous in
England. In America, they always accept bribes.

Help me through this a little bit more. How did you manage to raise $9 million if the
club was making $10,000 a month. How were you able to get a credit line for $9

I can tell you that if you look at Scotland Yard's records for the Arigon company for
May 1995, you'll see that they brought in over $80 million a year. So $9 million,
especially now, isn't that much money.

So what are you saying? Are you saying that the money came from the English

Yes, from England of course. All the money came from England. Some of it came
from a Hungarian bank and all the rest of the money came from England.

What business were the British companies doing? What were you selling at a profit
in Britain?

Just commerce. It cost even more to build the Magnex factory. That was terrible,
that cost over $15 million.

What? The company or you? Did the company make £15 million or did you make
$15 million?

No, they paid $15 million for the factory to be built.

How much did you make out of YBM Magnex then?

Nothing. Building Magnex was my job. My friends and I, through the strictest of
economies and correct business practices, managed to put together the sum of $20
million. We put away a sum of $20 million and released it in order to build the
Magnex factory. And it was built. I became its president.

So you saved $20 million? You saved $20 million from what?

From commerce.

Selling what?

Everything, including flour and grain.

When you say everything, what do you mean apart from wheat? How did you make
$20 million?

Apart from drugs, apart from drugs, weapons, nuclear materials, prostitution,
precious stones, we were involved in trading foostuffs, textiles, crockery,
footwear, oil products.

Did you make these things and sell them or did you act as an entrepreneur?

No, we acted as middle-men. We acted as middle-men. For example, I bought
crockery in Italy, for approximately $2 million or $3 million and then sold it in
Russia with a 100% mark-up. I bought bulk quantities of footwear in Holland and
America and then sold it with over a 100% mark-up. I bought foodstuffs in Hungary,
in Italy, and in America and then sold them with over a 100% mark-up. I bought oil
products in England and then sold them with a mark-up of less than 100%. There
was enough of it for me to be able to sell it with a reduced profit margin. I bought
grain in Slovakia and then sold it with a mark-up of about 45%. That was my friends
and myself. The profits were high, we made very big money. Then came the
collapse of the economy in Russia. There was an excess of roubles, but there were
no goods from the West. I bought sets of kitchenware in China and sold them all in
Russia. And the most interesting thing is in connection with the money I then
received. We acted as a credit broker. And I released the money after the goods had
crossed the line as they entered the buyers' warehouses. Buyers are more
trustworthy. We worked mainly through this line of credit and all the money went
from bank to bank. We were a non-cash operation. We purchased the most
expensive equipment. The profit was huge. Very, very big. We made between $5
million and $7 million a month. So a profit of $20 million, it isn’t that large a sum
of money. We consulted with our lawyers regarding all our activities to ensure that
we didn't break the law. Off-shore companies aren’t required to keep books, but we
didn’t know this, and we kept books from 1991 up until 1995 or 1996, I don't
remember which, for as long as the off-shore company existed. Your English Secret
Service received from us around 100 kilograms of documents: transport documents,
border-crossing applications to customs. In other words, the company's activities
were so above board that in the course of those five or six years, for the entire
duration of the inquiry, they repeatedly checked the sources of all the activities, but
never once found anything criminal.

Those were the good old days, weren't they? £7 million a month?

Yes. And when we had a bad month and only made $5 million, it wasn't really that

Are you serious?


And you said there was no cash? It all went from bank to bank?

Bank to bank.

How did you live if there was no cash?

We had to live! We received a salary. Everyone was paid a sufficiently high salary.
And then we shared any profits to which we were entitled.

How high was your salary?

It has always been pretty stable: £10,000 a month. Other sums went into my account
as earnings, or into accounts belonging to my friends.

You must have millions in your accounts.

I spent it all on building the factories.


In Hungary. There are over a thousand people working in the factories that I built
and created in Hungary.

So $7 million a month in a good month, $5 million a month in a bad month - during
the good old days.

Unfortunately, not every month was like that. There were months when we made no
money at all, because we were on holiday. We could make good money. There were
bloody successful months: $7 million, $5 million. There were some months when
we'd make $100,000 or $50,000.

When you came to London, what did you do? How did you amuse yourself? Do you
like London?

What did I do in London? I went to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham
Palace. Then I went to eat duck in Chinatown. Then I went to see Westminster
Abbey. Then I took a trip down the Thames. And that was it, day by day. One day I
ate duck, the next day I sailed down the Thames. That’s how I spent my days.

You’ve been to the Unites States. Do you like it there?

There are two things that I dislike about the Unites States: their bread and the FBI.

Would you give evidence on Russian organised crime to a congressional committee
if you were guaranteed immunity?

I would do so if anybody asked me to. It wouldn't bother me at all. But no-one has
asked me to.

Can I just take you -

I am the type of person who phones 911 straightaway if I know that a crime has
been committed.

But nobody has ever really committed a crime against you, have they?

No, not against me, no. Apart from the FBI and Scotland Yard. Five or six names.

I have asked you many times, I’m going to ask you again. Why you?

Well, clearly they like me! The name MOGALEVICH- is the easiest one to
pronounce in English!

It's a serious question.

And my answer was a serious one. I don't know. Unfortunately, unfortunately I
don’t know. Unfortunately. Well, what can one do? I’m philosophical about it now.
A man is born a hunchback and his wife is also a hunchback. Well, I’m just like
him. I was born popular and so you see, I am popular!

Let me take you through the FBI report.

Go on then.

It is claimed that five years ago, you had a 250-member criminal organisation in

And they can confirm everything of course? They have the peoples’ surnames, No.
25, Petrov, No. 200, Siderov. Can they substantiate their allegations? Can they
substantiate them in any way?

The report says your organisation operates in Central Europe, including Prague,
Vienna, Russia, the United States, the Ukraine, Israel and the United Kingdom.

And so, can they confirm it? How? And how do they substantiate it? In whatever
way they can! If you were in my shoes, how would you refute it? How can you
refute it? If they were saying something concrete, ‘in England you did this’, ‘in
America you did this’, I could say either yes, that did happen, or no, it didn’t.
They’re saying these things exist, how can you prove they don’t? None of it
happened. How can you explain that none of it happened? Well, how do you explain
it? It's impossible to explain it.

But you know, Mr MOGALEVICH-, this is a criminal intelligence report. It is not
the case of a prosecution. It is criminal intelligence. Let me try and answer your
point here.

And what is that? It is an accusation, that's the thing with this report. If it remained
with the Secret Service, they would sit with it -

That's right -

- and work on it. They are building up accusations, accusations which will only ever
be tried by public opinion. How can that possibly be? How can someone be called a
criminal as a result of that? A criminal, a criminal, a bastard and a scoundrel, whose
place is in jail because his aim is to ruin peoples' lives. And not only me, but my
family, my children, my friends. The person who wrote this - and detective Ron
Wise too, for example, who wrote his affidavit. He raised his hand and said,- I
swear, I don't know how, I don't know by what means, I don't know with whom, but
I know that MOGALEVICH- laundered $80 million. On the basis of which a judge
sanctions an arrest. Without knowing how or by what means, and he takes an oath!

You know what the problem is with that British prosecution. The Russians did not
give evidence that the money had been obtained illegally by you.

And how could it be substantiated if the money had been earned legally? This is
how they could have substantiated it. Begin by obtaining from Russia evidence of
my illegal activities and then bring about an accusation. But they began by bringing
about an accusation and then went to Russia to get evidence of my illegal activities.
And if there hadn't been any illegal activities, then what?
If I turn to you, my friend Tom and say, "Please give me $5 million", You’d say, "I
don't have $5 million."
I say, "But don't you want to give me it?"
You’d reply, "I want to, but I haven't got it."
I say, "That means that you don't want to give it to me."
"I haven't got it!"
"You don't want to give it to me!"
So then I go and tell all my friends that I asked Tom for $5 million and he wouldn't
give me it. What a bastard! But he hasn't got it! How can Russia provide
documentation on my illegal activities if there weren't any such illegal activities?

You've seen the report?

Of course.

They say that a man is known by his friends -

Hang on a minute. Ron Wise stated that he knew about my criminal activities in
Prague from members of the Secret Service in Prague. And when my lawyer said to
him, "Tell me the Czech agent’s surname", he said that he didn’t remember it. He
said, "Give me your working notes from the period when you were interrogating
him. They must be somewhere." Maybe some information that you received is on a
piece of paper somewhere, in a working notebook maybe, a phone number. Show at
least something which proves that you actually received evidence of
MOGALEVICH- criminal activities from Prague.
He replied, "We don't have anything."

Let me just finish the question about this FBI report. They say that a man is known
by his friends. The report lists 22 people, who are fully named and identified and
described as criminal associates of yours. Have you seen the report? Is that true?

Which report are we talking about with these 22 people? I have seen many, many
reports. Which report are we talking about? Please be more specific.

The FBI report. We are talking about the FBI report. Let me just ask the question

I understand, OK.

It lists 22 people who are described as your criminal associates. Do you know any or
all of these men?


I will explain. The thing is that I didn’t think that there were 22 of them. I simply
hadn’t counted them. Of course. My first wife appears as my criminal business
partner, she is one of those 22 people. My daughter. My cousin. All of them are
considered to be amongst my criminal business partners. Half of them are people
I've never even heard of. Some man who lives in New Zealand. How exactly they
came to that conclusion and took him from New Zealand, I don’t know. Also present
is the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov. He too is one of my criminal
connections. It says that he had business dealings with me in connection with some
airline or insurance business, I don't remember which. I've only ever seen him once
in my life - on television.

Can I just try and focus this answer down. Do you know some of the people named?

Well, of course I do. Some of them are people with whom I've been acquainted for
15 or 20 years. They’re my work or university colleagues. Some of them are people
with whom I’ve worked in business: the head factory engineer, a comrade with
whom I was at school with from the first to the fifth year. I don’t know half of these
people. Five of them, I’ve never even heard of. I do know some of them, how could
I pretend not to know a man with whom I was at school? I’ve known him for 40 or
45 years, it's difficult to say exactly.

So if we take one name. Let’s come back to Monya Elson.

Monya Elson. I became acquainted with Monya Elson in 1992 when he was in
Hungary. And the last time I saw Monya Elson was in 1993. We knew one another
for a year. He was at my birthday party in 1992 and at my birthday party again in
1993. So we knew one another from one birthday to the next. That's all there is to
say regarding my acquaintance with Monya Elson. Monya Elson lived in New York,
his affairs brought him to Budapest and it was there that we became acquainted.

Did you know he has a gang?



What does the future hold for you now?

I can’t even envisage it. I can’t even imagine it. Not a lot. I have virtually lost all
interest in life. I can’t launder anything through the Bank of New York anymore.
That business has already had a stop put to it. There is no longer a decent bank in

You may have lost your bank, but you haven't lost your sense of humour.

It's one of the few things I have left.

You look like a tough guy. Are you a tough guy?

No, it’s just that I weigh a lot. I've become rather heavy. When I was thin, I came
across as being warmer.

Of all the allegations made about you, do you think some of them are a little bit

No, categorically, no.


Nothing. Nothing. Of course, it’s possible to invent things.

You have never laundered a dollar?

Not a cent.

You have never made money from prostitution?

I will say that 20 years ago, my life was not without problems. I was a little man in
the society of that day. Even back then, the notion that prostitution is a dirty
business was drummed into me. I was never involved in it, not even in its more
ethical forms. No amount of money would have forced me to become involved in it.
After all, it’s earning money from homosexuality or trading children.

OK, but you have bought and sold such a variety of things.

But they were everyday things: footwear, wheat, crockery, glass - it was a good

Do you think the end of Soviet-style Communism gave people like you a real
chance to become millionaires?

Do I think that the collapse of the Soviet Union- No, not really. I left Russia before
the collapse of the Soviet Union, at a time when the Soviet Union still existed.

But you told me earlier that you bought and sold stuff in the new Russia, that you
made millions of dollars profit.

Absolutely fair, absolutely fair. If I hadn’t done that, I’d have done something else
and I’d still have earned enough money.

But the millions that you made, and apparently lost, could never have happened
under the old Soviet Union.

Yes, but as well as commerce, there were other legal businesses that I could have got
involved in, even during the time of the Soviet Union, which could have earned me
more than enough money. I could have built factories or something else. What’s the
difference between a million dollars and ten times that? The difference is only on
paper. The difference isn’t that great. I’m a pretty modest man, in my lifestyle, and
in life. I don’t need as much money as they say I do. My outgoings are very modest.

How do you know?

I am satiated.

Doing what?

In the morning, I wait for the next scandal. That's the only way that my name is
understood. And in the evening, I suffer if there hasn’t been one.

A serious political question. Do you think the West was wise to pump so many
billions of dollars into Russia?

Kind Uncle Sam is just a fairy tale! They poured that money in simply in order to
get it back again. In giving that money, they forced Russia to do as they wanted by
placating Russia with American goods. And in that way, by giving this money, they
knew that tomorrow they’d be receiving orders for telephone equipment, for cars,
for Coca Cola, for Pepsi Cola, for Orbit, for Mars bars, for chewing gum, for sweets.
All the money the Americans had given Russia was coming back to them again from
the goods that they were selling us. So kind America simply robbed Russia.

The Russia that you have come back to from Hungary after your travels overseas -
do you like it?

No, I don’t like it.


The people have no future. There is no social support. The Americans have broken
everything. They have destroyed everything and deprived people of any hope for the
future. And even the small amounts of money that the Russian people are earning
are being called dirty by the Americans. According to America and the FBI, there
are 150 million criminals in Russia. And in America, there are 240 million saints! It
would be truer to say the FBI dress themselves up as saints. There is no crime in
America, and if there is, it is all perpetrated by Russians! The only criminals
amongst those 240 million people are Russians, who only exist to launder money,
sell drugs, radioactive materials. That's how it is.

I'll give you a choice. You can live where you like, do what you like. What would it

Wherever it might be. Do you mean now, or in general, or in the future?


Now. Now, I’d most probably go to New Zealand. There aren’t any dangerous
insects there.

Is that the only reason you’d go to New Zealand?


Thank you very much. We’ve talked for nearly four and a half hours.

It wasn’t a conversation, it was like knocking-up! Had we the time, I could talk for
so long that there would be enough material for a broadcast lasting 10 years. It
would be a serial: England with MOGALEVICH-.

Let me just ask you one more question. You hide your anger behind humour, but
you are quite angry, aren’t you?

Of course. If someone came into your home without permission, defecated on the
table, humiliated your wife, hit your son in the face, and preceded it all by saying
that these actions were only because of the fight for justice and democracy, how
would you feel? And what if you believed that you weren’t guilty at all and that this
attitude towards you was totally unjustified? You’d be in the very situation that I
find myself in. With no sense of ceremony whatsoever, Ron Wise, Moody, Levinson
came into my family’s home, humiliated my friends and my children, ruined their
lives - and all because of something that they had imagined. But who are they?
Incidentally, Ron Wise was fired from the FBI for lying. Not Ron Wise, I'm sorry, I
mean Levinson. Levinson was fired from the FBI for lying. In connection with the
incident with Mikhailov; he claimed that Mikhailov had gouged a man’s eye out,
irrespective of the fact that the man came along with two eyes. Levinson swore that
the man had been operated on and that his eye had been put back in again. But none
of the experts at the American institute were convinced, despite his malicious
assertion that it was true. Both in court and in his affidavit, he swore that the man
had no eye. Even though the man appeared in court with both of his eyes. The same
thing happened with me. I’ve allegedly killed two people and everyone ignores the
fact that those two people are still alive. Soon, everyone will be saying that my sister
is a prostitute. And it will be in all the papers. And even if you prove that I haven’t
got a sister, no-one will be in the slightest bit interested. So my only option is to
joke about it. And eat so as to remain positive!


Can I just ask you this question again? The report names about 13 criminal
associates of yours. You've seen the report, you managed to get it somehow, and I
want to ask you, are these people real and do they have a criminal background as the
report alleges, and if that is true, should one not judge a man by his friends?

OK, the thing is the people can’t be tried because the content of that report is only
for internal use. And so to put anyone on trial, to put anyone on trial - the FBI can’t
do that. It says there that it was written by Smith, by Levinson, by Bradbury. It’s a
written report, FBI intelligence and people are mentioned in it. What kind of a trial
is that? Who is being tried? They are all documents for internal use, and when they
end up in a newspaper, then some journalist will judge them. But talking legally, I
received it from the FBI. Whatever is in the documents, the FBI says that is their
secret data, and that’s it. And judicially the matter is closed.

But should you be judged by your friends, criminal associates in the report?

OK, I’ll tell you. My first wife, my criminal activities. I divorced that woman in
1985. That was 14 years ago. Her criminal activities obviously consisted of the fact
that she bore me a daughter and brought up a niece. How can you judge her? If she
is good or bad, who can know? Either way, the criminal activities they are being
accused of are none other than their relationship with me. Josef Kabson. Josef
Kabson. He is in the Chamber of Deputies. He’s a professor, an academic, an awar
winning artiste of the Soviet Union and of all the former republics of the Soviet
Union, who has been singing on stage for the past 37 years. The FBI says that he is a
criminal, that in addition to singing he also deals drugs during the interval, that
during the interval he sells a few drugs.

But there are criminals on that list, aren’t there?

I don’t know of a single person. I don’t think so, I don’t think so. There are a few
surnames of people I don’t know, in as much as they are part of a company called
Arigon, which I used to have in California, and they aren’t paying any tax. I have
known these people and I didn’t know of the existence of that company. But they’re
saying that I’m their partner.

So with that FBI report, you know all the nice guys who are OK, but you don’t
know any of the bad guys who are not OK?

I don’t remember if Ivankov is in that report. I really don’t know him. I’ve never
met him. Monya Elson is in that report. He wasn’t a criminal when I met him and I
find it very sad that he is now in prison.

How do you know he wasn’t a criminal?

Because in a whole year of knowing him, we never had a single conversation about
crime, about any crime that he had committed or any crime that he was intending to
commit. When you are talking with your friends, how do you know that they aren’t
criminals? Now he is going -

Why should he talk to you about committing crimes?

No, there is no reason why he should. But there is also no reason why he wouldn’t
talk about some crime that he had committed at some point. I’d be able to tell from
his eyes whether or not he was a criminal. From his eyes, because that’s Lambroso’s

Why should he tell you that he is a criminal?

But why should I know if a man is a criminal? I never read Lambroso’s theory when
I was young, I only know of it from hearsay, but if we rely on that theory, then the
shape of your ears might mean that you have homicidal tendencies, Tom!

Let me just hear your answer.

Yes, the shape of one’s aural cavity indicates whether or not one has homicidal
tendencies. Have you read Lambroso’s theory? He was an Italian who invented the
theory that human nature is defined by the exterior.

I don’t want to go into ethnology. That’s one thing we are not going to tackle in this
interview. One last question. Is there much organised crime in Russia, and if there is,
how high does it go?

There is no organised crime in Russia. Were there organised crime, then the courts
would make the appropriate judgement. When a court claims that a group in Russia
is criminal, then a court establishes them as a criminal group. But friendship
amongst people living in the same area or working in the same business doesn’t
mean that they’re a criminal group. The FBI is a criminal association, defined by a
single aim, financed from the outside, which has weapons and unlimited abilities.
That's the FBI: a criminal association. If you take the criminal code and read it
carefully, then the FBI is 100% a criminal association. And their activities can be
seen as shining examples of their criminality. I’ve taken statistics from Canada and
read about how in Canada in 1998 3% of all crime was said to be committed by
Russians. The whole of Canada is claiming that Russian crime has invaded the
whole of America.

You are saying there is no Russian organised crime?

There are criminals. There are criminals just like in any country. Amongst 250
million people there must be criminals. It isn’t a castrated country. There are people
who, deprived of the opportunity to do anything else, commit crimes. But -

Let me just ask the question once more, because it’s getting confusing. Do you
believe there is any Russian organised crime?

No. I think that there are people who commit crimes, a few of those maybe. There
are bandits, but as far as there being organised crime, as far as there being organised
crime, I don’t think that there is any. Maybe there is some, but not in the way that
the Americans see it. That is, there is crime, there is crime, but how can you say that
there is a Russian mafia in America? The word mafia, as far as I understand the
word, means a criminal group that is connected with the political organs, the police
and the administration. I don’t know of a single Russian in the US Senate, a single
Russian in the US Congress, a single Russian in the US government. Where are the
connections with the Russians? How can there be a Russian mafia in America?
Where are their connections? There are possibly criminals who go there to commit a
crime. They are caught and sent to prison for a specific deed. But it is unfair to say
that all Russians are an organised crime group.

Source: BBC