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Police Confirm Release of Mogilevich, Nekrasov

The Interior Ministry has released suspected organized crime boss Semyon Mogilevich, who is wanted by the United States for fraud and racketeering, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Mogilevich, who the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says created a powerful crime group headquartered in Budapest in the 1990s, was arrested in Moscow last year and accused of tax evasion at Arbat Prestige.

Mogilevich and Vladimir Nekrasov, the cosmetics chain’s owner, were released on orders not to flee because the terms under which they could be held had expired, said Irina Dudukina, a spokeswoman at the Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee.

The charges “are not of a particularly grave nature so investigators had no particular reason to keep them imprisoned,” Dudukina said.

Mogilevich’s lawyers have repeatedly said their client was innocent and denied any links to Arbat Prestige, where prosecutors said the tax evasion took place.

Dudukina said the case would be sent to court on Monday or Tuesday after investigators had corrected a mistake that had delayed it.

The Moscow court had begun to hear the case but in June sent it back to prosecutors for corrections.

The FBI director said in 2005 that Mogilevich’s organization engaged in drug and weapons trafficking, prostitution, money laundering and stock fraud. He has been on the FBI’s wanted list since 2003. Ukrainian-born Mogilevich has denied U.S. allegations that he is a crime boss.

Moscow has received an extradition request for Mogilevich from the United States but has said it will not hand him over. The Constitution does not allow the extradition of its citizens.

When Mogilevich was arrested, analysts said the real motive could be linked to accusations that he was involved in the multibillion-dollar gas trade between Russia and Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has accused Mogilevich of being behind RosUkrEnergo, an intermediary that sells gas to Ukraine. Mogilevich has denied through a lawyer any links to the firm.

(Reuters, AP)

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