New York  : London  : Brussels  : Moscow  : Beijing  : Sydney 
 
 
Client Sign In
Naftogaz Ukraine, Gazprom, and Mogilevich

Evidence suggesting that a Russian organized-crime grouping led by Ukrainian-born Semen Mogilevich has concluded a deal with Russian gas company Gazprom was published by "Jane's Intelligence Digest" on 31 January. According to an article titled "Ukraine's Financial Woes," Gazprom signed a contract on 5 December with a Hungarian company, Eural Trans Gas, to deliver Turkmen gas to Ukraine's border. "Jane's" claims that Eural is closely linked to an organized-crime group led by Mogilevich, a man banned from entering the United States who, according to "Jane's," "was described in a confidential British government report as 'one of the world's top criminals,' believed to have a personal fortune in excess of $100 million." The "Jane's" investigation concluded that Eural is closely connected to Igor Fisherman, director of a company called Highrock. Fisherman has been implicated in the past with Aragon Ltd., a Mogilevich-controlled entity.

The article also points to the involvement of Ihor Bakaj -- the former head of Naftogaz Ukraine, the Ukrainian state oil-and-gas joint-stock company -- who was forced to resign his position under accusations of mass corruption and theft from the company in 2001. Bakaj is believed to be involved in money-laundering schemes and is trying to form a joint venture between his old company, Naftogaz Ukraine, and a commercial entity called BARI on whose board he allegedly serves. According to the "Ukrayinska pravda" website on 3 February, the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office announced that it was investigating Bakaj's activities and might formally charge him with massive fraud and theft of state property. On 3 February, Interfax reported that the World Bank has warned Ukraine to take measures to ensure greater accountability and transparency in the workings of Naftogaz Ukraine.

According to "Jane's," the Eural-Gazprom contract might be a vehicle to launder money for Gazprom. The group writes: "Such is the potential scale of this money laundering, that JID believes the issue to represent a serious security threat to Western Europe and North America. Over the last decade, Gazprom officials are alleged to have transferred assets worth billions of dollars to their relatives in deals involving transactions conducted at below-market prices."

Retraction

In a series of articles published in 2003, RFE/RL Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch stated that the Hungarian company Eural trans Gas was controlled by Semen Mogilevich and his organized-crime group. One of these articles, entitled "Naftogaz Ukrainy - A Study in State-Sponsored Corruption," stated that Russian Interior Ministry General A.P. Mordovetz had sent a letter to the head of Russian Interpol descibing contacts between Eural Trans Gas managing director Andras Knopp and Mogilevich. Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch has since received a copy of a sworn declaration from General Mordovetz affirming that he never wrote any such letter. Based on this declaration, Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch has concluded that the letter in question cannot be relied upon as genuine. Moreover Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch has no evidence that demonstrates that Eural Trans Gas is, was, or has ever been controlled by Mogilevich. We regret the error.

(RFE/RL 07.ii.03)

 
News Archive