By Fiametta Cucurnia, La Republica, 04 september, 1999 published: “One of the largest money laundering operations in history, billions of dirty dollars have passed through Bank of New York in recent years in an operation in which, according to investigators, international intermediaries, the Russian mafia and members of the Moscow government are involved”.
“These are the suspects of the Russian Organized Crime Task Force, a group consisting of the FBI and the New York Police, which, together with the British police and Swiss judicial authorities, is investigating some suspicious current accounts in the hands of organized crime in the former Soviet Union. Union.
The FBI has been alerted by British authorities who are investigating financial activities related to the Russian mafia in the UK. It turns out that the company Benex, registered in England, has links with the American company YBM Magnex, which investigators trace to one of the most powerful and dangerous figures of the Russian mafia, Semyon Mogilevich, a brainy don, a boss with brains. British authorities report suspicious banking activity of Benex with the London branch of Bank of New York in the USA . Then the Republican Bank of New York warns the FBI about suspicious movements related to the Republican Bank itself, Russian companies and the Bank of New York. As a result of the investigation, it turned out that in a New York Bank account in the name of Benex, ten billion dollars (4.2 verified), that is, about 19 billion liras, with a clearly suspicious volume of transactions, which, however, the bank does not immediately report to the federal authorities.
The B enex account is directly managed by one of the bank's vice-presidents, the head of the Department for Work with Eastern Europe, Natasha Gurfinkel, who has now been removed from her post. Her husband is Konstantin Kagalovsky, a respected reform economist who was Russia's delegate to the International Monetary Fund until 1995, and most recently was an adviser to Al Gore in the US presidential election in 2000.He is the vice president of the major Russian oil company YUKOS , and a few years ago headed the Russian bank Menatep , which once collaborated with Bank of New York . A large Russian bank, now de facto insolvent, is part of the industrial empire of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of seven Russian financiers known as "oligarchs".
The FBI is investigating the possible origin of money laundered through the Bank of New York by Menatep, a company suspected, along with other Russian companies, of stealing money from the country. Formally, the Kagalovskys are not accused of anything, but the FBI knows that if there is no evidence to accuse Natasha Kagalovskaya, however, she is sure that, given her position, she could not have been unaware of the huge amount of money transferred to this account. In addition, there are reviews of transaction registrars. They accuse Kagalovsky of never following the procedure for controlling capital transfers.
And they blame another Bank of New York executive , Lucy Edwards , for the same flaw . The vice-president of the London branch, Edwards, was also the manager of the accounting department of Eastern Europe; she was also born in Russia, and then, after getting married, took American citizenship. And finally, she also has a new "suspect" husband:Peter Berlin , Russian, director of Benex Worldwide , a British subsidiary of Mogilevich 's Benex , suspected of jointly managing the infamous Bank of New York account .
Among these four characters is Bruce Rappaport, a Swiss banker already known to government investigators. Rappaport owns Inter-Maritime, a bank in Switzerland that helps American banks doing important business in Russia. According to the FBI, millions of dollars passing through the Bank of New York-Inter Maritime in Geneva will be directly linked to a criminal account in New York. Rappaport has not formally been charged with anything yet, but the FBI's suspicions against him are reinforced by his recent appointment as ambassador to Russia of Antigua, a Caribbean island known for many years as a center of money laundering of Russian crime, where the banker has many political and business connections. Here, the local government granted Rappaport a virtual monopoly on the oil market.
The investigation team's interest is focused on Rappaport for one main reason: in 1994, Bank of New York Inter-Maritime in Geneva briefly used Bank of New York to conduct business in Russia. The FBI wonders how such a conservative institution as the Bank of New York, one of the oldest in the United States, could have entered into business with a man who has often attracted the attention of police detectives around the world.
And here the investigation becomes more complicated, other employees of the New York bank are also involved in it, who, according to USA Today, citing sources in the investigative authorities, forged the records of a financial institution. The bank's CEO Thomas Renil denied this, but very late and only after he sent out a "warning" letter to 17,000 employees of the institution. Not only. Now the operation seems to have expanded like wildfire to include banking institutions from all over the world, starting with Incobank., a Russian institution was considered suspicious even in Moscow to reach Scotland, Brazil and China” - notes La Republica in the article “Mafia, bankers and dirty money”.