Robert Maxwell obtains passports for Mogilevich, helps KGB

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Sometime in 1988, Robert Maxwell obtains Israeli passports for Semion Mogilevich and 23 of his associates.

With passports in hand and access to an account Maxwell set up with the Bank of New York for money laundering, Mogilevich is able to expand his crime ring throughout Europe and the rest of the world.


In the 1980s, Robert Maxwell was laundering money for Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. His operation became the model for Russia and transnational organized crime groups.

Maxwell showed how an intricate, complex web of shell companies under a group umbrella could move money around the globe. When New York became a target for Eastern Bloc criminal syndicates and we looked at how it operated, the Maxwell model was there for all to see.

John P. O’Neill, FBI agent, Superspy

Mogilevich entered the 1980s already entrenched in organized crime, but not leading it. He began building his fortune in the mid-80s by fleecing Jewish refugees emigrating to Israel and the US from the Soviet Union. He offered to purchase their assets, sell them for market value, and send them the proceeds after they settled. Instead, he kept the money for himself.

Maxwell was introduced to Mogilevich by KGB boss Vladimir Kryuchkov as part of a plan to turn KGB agents and organized crime leaders into the ruling class in a post-Soviet Russia.

[Kryuchov] wanted to establish hundreds of business enterprises in the West that would provide cover for the KGB and Communist Party members to transfer their assets abroad with the assistance of organized crime, in a similar secret fashion to what Maxwell was providing to Mossad.


Kryuchov’s plan was to divide the spoils of the fallen Soviet Union by taking $50 billion in gold bullion from the Communist Party and putting it in commodity firms and shell companies controlled by Mogilevich, Maxwell, and others.

Craig Unger, American Kompromat

According to the book Robert Maxwell, Israel’s Superspy, Maxwell was in deep financial troubles when Mossad officials told him to “try to do what his fellow tycoon, Rupert Murdoch, had done”: confess to the banks and renegotiate. Maxwell refused and threatened to expose Mossad secrets in his newspapers if the organization didn’t pay him. It’s with that level of power over Israel that Maxwell is able to obtain Israeli passports for Mogilevich and his associates.

Maxwell continues working for transnational organized crime until his death.

Maxwell became a bagman of sorts who moved millions of dollars around at the toss of a hat. He became very close to the Politburo. The information he provided was priceless. He began sharing valuable Western technology with Moscow–stealing it, really– and worked every side of the fence, spending one day in the White House with Reagan, the next in the Kremlin, and then, perhaps, off to Israel.

Craig Unger, American Kompromat

Over the next few years, Mogilevich opens multiple bank accounts under the names of various companies and even takes ownership of an Israeli bank with offices in Moscow, Cyprus, and Tel Aviv.

Note: According to the authors of Superspy, Maxwell’s Mossad handler was Rafi Eitan, the same Mossad official who recruited Jonathan Pollard to spy on the USA for Israel. Ari Ben-Menashe also claims to have handled Maxwell.

External Sources

Robert Maxwell, Israel’s Superspy: The Life and Murder of a Media Mogul by Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon

American Kompromat by Craig Unger, p.158-60

Red Mafiya by Robert I Friedman, p.241

Timothy Fitzpatrick, Archived

Narkive (Archived)

Photo: Shutterstock via Town & Country

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