Sometime in 1988, Semion Mogilevich gains Israeli citizenship and obtains Israeli passports for himself and 23 of his associates thanks to Robert Maxwell.
While in Israel, Mogilevich and his associates form relationships with politicians and Israeli and Russian criminals. Mogilevich opens multiple bank accounts under the names of various companies. According to the FBI, Mogilevich even takes ownership of one Israeli bank, which has offices in Moscow, Cyprus, and Tel Aviv.
Maxwell had been working for Mossad (and other intelligence agencies) when he found himself in severe financial struggles. According to a book on Robert Maxwell by Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon, Mossad told Maxwell to “try to do what his fellow tycoon, Rupert Murdoch, had done” to fix his own financial woes: 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 “suggest” that Israel provide passports for Mogilevich and his friends.
With passports in hand and access to an account Maxwell set up with the Bank of New York (which we might expand on later), Mogilevich is able to leave the Soviet Union and expand his crime ring throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
Robert Maxwell, Israel’s Superspy: The Life and Murder of a Media Mogul by Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon
Red Mafiya by Robert I Friedman, p. 241
Photograph (Left): Alamy Stock Photo
Photograph (Right): Unknown