Russian Mob May Have
Laundered Billions
At Bank Of NY
WASHINGTON (Agence France Presse) - Russian organized crime may have moved billions of dollars through the Bank of New York in what could be the biggest money laundering scheme ever detected in US history, The New York Times said Thursday.
"What we have here is the penetration of a major U.S. organization by Russian organized crime," an unidentified US official investigating the case told the daily.
From October to March some $4.2 billion in more than 10,000 transactions moved through one account with the bank, investigators said.
They believe as much as $10 billion dollars may have passed through that and other related bank accounts since early last year.
The investigators stressed that the inquiry is in its initial stages and said they did not know the full scale of the money laundering scheme nor where the money ended up.
Alerted more than a year ago by British authorities investigating Russian organized crime, the accounts at the Bank of New York have been linked to Semyon Yukovich Mogilevich, believed to be a top boss in the Russian mob.
The activities of Mogilevich, 53, whose fortune is estimated by British intelligence at $100 million, have been watched closely by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and European counterparts for the past five years.
The Bank of New York, in a statement provided by the daily, said there were "no allegations of wrongdoing" against it.
The bank added it was cooperating with US authorities "in a confidential investigation of the use of bank facilities to transfer funds from Russia to other countries."
Two female employees in the bank's Eastern European division have been suspended, the bank told the daily. They are married to Russian businessmen, one of whom investigators believe controlled one of the accounts.
Investigators here and in Europe have been watchful of money laundering operations after the collapse of the Russian financial system last year increased the flight of capital out of the country, the daily said. ((c) 1999 Agence France Presse)