January 26, 2008 / 1:33 AM / 11 years ago

Russia detains crime boss wanted by FBI

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police said on Friday they had detained suspected crime boss Semion Mogilevich, who is wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

The FBI said Ukrainian-born Mogilevich created a powerful Eastern European organized crime ring in the 1990s that smuggled weapons and drugs and engaged in prostitution, money laundering and organized stock fraud.

Mogilevich’s representatives could not be reached for comment.

Mogilevich, 61, was using a different name when he was detained on Thursday along with Vladimir Nekrasov, the head of Russia’s top cosmetics retailer, Arbat Prestige.

“Sergei Shnaider, who is better known as Semion Mogilevich, was also detained,” a spokeswoman for the central regional department of Russia’s Interior Ministry said by telephone.

“He is a person with multiple surnames, multiple citizenships and has been pursued for 15 years not only by Russia’s law enforcement agencies but also by the law enforcement agencies of other countries,” she said.

A Moscow court approved his arrest.

Russian state television showed pictures of a portly man in a leather coat and cloth cap being escorted into a minibus by heavily armed officers.

About 50 police and special forces troops were used to detain the men in central Moscow, Russian newspapers said.

The FBI says Mogilevich “should be considered armed and dangerous and an escape risk.” Photographs of Mogilevich on the FBI’s Web site show a balding man dressed in a suit.

“Mr. Mogilevich is wanted in the United States on grand jury charges of racketeering, securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering,” said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

“Right here in Budapest, Ukrainian-born Semion Mogilevich established the headquarters of his powerful organized crime enterprise,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said in a 2005 speech, according to the FBI’s Web site.

“The group engaged in drug and weapons trafficking, prostitution and money laundering, and organized stock fraud in the United States and Canada in which investors lost over 150 million dollars,” Mueller said.

The FBI said Mogilevich’s primary residence was in Moscow although he had links to the United States and England.

Nekrasov was detained on suspicion of large-scale tax evasion, the Interior Ministry said.

Additional reporting by Diane Bartz and Vera Kalian; Editing by Charles Dick and Peter Cooney

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