WikiLeaks: Russian gas supplies to EU, Ukraine linked to mafia

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Dec. 2, 2010, 11:03 a.m. | Business — by Interfax-Ukraine

WikiLeaks: Gas supplies from Russia to Ukraine and the EU states are partially linked to the Russian mafia

U.S. diplomats have information that the gas supplies from Russia to Ukraine and the EU states are partially linked to the Russian mafia, the Guardian has reported referring to the classified U.S. cables released by WikiLeaks. "Allegations have long swirled that the Russian crime don Semyon Mogilevich had covert interests in Swiss-registered RosUkrEnergo, which distributes gas from central Asia," the newspaper said.

A billionaire Ukrainian businessman and RosUkrEnergo co-owner, Dmytro Firtash said this in a confidential meeting with the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. Firtash admitted that Mogilevich was the real power behind his own multibillion-dollar gas interests. He insisted it was impossible to do business in Ukraine in the 1990s without striking deals with organized criminals.

"He [Firtash] acknowledged ties to Russian organized crime figure Semyon Mogilevich, stating he had needed Mogilevich's approval to get into business in the first place," Taylor wrote in a secret memo dedicated to his meeting with Firtash, according to WikiLeaks.

The U.S. says Mogilevich is one of the world's top mafia bosses, accusing him of creating eastern Europe's most powerful crime group in the 1990s. He is on the list of the FBI's ten most wanted fugitives for his alleged part in a multimillion-dollar fraud involving a Pennsylvania-based company in the 90s, the Guardian wrote.

RosUkrEnergo was set up in summer 2004 by Gazprom and Centragas Holding AG on a parity basis. Centragas Holding AG is owned by Ukrainian businessmen Dmytro Firtash (90%) and Ivan Fursin (10%). RosUkrEnergo was the monopoly supplier of natural gas to Ukraine in 2006-2008.
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