Semeon Mogilevich seems to have walked right away from the set of a Hollywood gangster movie: he is fat, highly educated, powerful, rich, and above all incredibly elusive. The Ukrainian criminal is wanted by various countries and has been on the World’s Most Wanted list of the FBI since 2009. Despite being one of the world’s most hunted criminals, the mysterious mobster remains a free man.
Born in 1946 in Kiev, Mogilevich studied economics at Lviv university. After graduating, the young gangster ended up in Moscow where he started from the bottom as a hoodlum in a local street gang. Mogilevich, of Jewish descent himself, made his first big hit by ripping off Jews who emigrated from Russia to Israel during the 1980s. With this stolen money, the businessman-gangster hybrid began to construct his own empire, with both illegal and legal branches all around the world. The organization led by Mogilevich came to the attention of the FBI when he defrauded more than $150 million dollars on the Canadian stock market. However, Mogilevich’s operations are not limited to white collar crime. According to the FBI, his organization is responsible for drug-trafficking, prostitution, numerous car bombings, assassinations and even trade in nuclear material; 3 tons of uranium was allegedly stolen by his organization from a bunker in the former Soviet-Union.
As a businessman, Mogilevich’s record is just as impressive. Although his name seldom appears on paper, investigations have shown that Mogilevich is the de facto owner of a wide array of companies, ranging from European energy firms to one of Russia’s largest private banks. But how has this prominent gangster -who even gives interviews to news agencies like the BBC – managed to stay out of jail? Although the Ukrainian criminal was arrested by the Russian police in 2008, he was released after several months because the charges were ‘’not severe enough’’. The story gets even more peculiar when looking at the politicians Mogilevich reportedly associates with. The mobster and his organization are apparently connected with the former Ukrainian prime minister, the heads of several intelligence services, the former mayor of Moscow, and Russian president Vladimir Putin. The former chief of the Ukrainian secret service reported that Mogilevich and Putin are on good terms.
When we think of internationally influential people, we tend to think of presidents, political activists, dictators, owners of multinational companies but certainly not of morbidly obese criminal masterminds. Despite the increasing judicial cooperation and joined international law enforcement however, it is possible for Semeon Mogelivch to run a powerful international criminal empire. To this day, ”the most dangerous mobster in the world” remains a free man.