Thursday, March 8, 2007

UN official guilty of money laundering conspiracy

A jury in New York has found a Russian diplomat guilty of conspiring to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribe money, according to a press release from the United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, 49, (shown above at the time of his arrest) faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 25. He has been held under house arrest, his movements checked by a bracelet monitor, since the Russian government secured his release from a detention cell.
Kuznetsov served as chairman of the United Nations' Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions until his arrest in September 2005. He was the highest ranking Russian diplomat at the UN. At the time of his arrest, Russian news agency Pravda insisted that American authorities were using a corruption probe as a means of slandering the UN after its opposition to the invasion of Iraq and of extracting the United States from the international body.

He was conviced of conspiring with Russian UN procurement officer Alexader Yakovlev from 2000 through mid-2005 to hide payments provided by foreign companies seeking to do business with the UN. Yakovlev is believed to have taken over $1 million in bribes during that period. Kuznetsov learned of the scheme and accepted a share of the proceeds rather than report Yakovlev to authorities. Kuznetsov established an off-shore company called Nikal Ltd. in order to hide the money at the Antigua Overseas Bank Limited.
According to the Washington Post, Kuznetsov is the fourth UN-based official implicated in an ongoing investigation into corruption.

Yakovlev pleaded guilty in 2005.

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Charged with banker's murder, four face life in prison

An Italian prosecutor is asking for life prison terms for the four men charged with the June 17, 1982, London murder of a prominent banker, according to a story by Stephen Brown of Reuters UK.

Roberto Calvi (left), once head of the now defunct Banco Ambrosiano, was found dead, hanging from a rope under the Blackfriars Bridge. While his death was initially ruled a suicide, additional forensic evidence surfaced indicating that the suicide was staged and Calvi had been murdered by strangulation.

Accused of the crime are Pippo Calo, an alleged Sicilian Mafioso once known as the Mafia's treasurer; alleged Rome crime boss Ernesto Diotallevi; Sardinian financier Flavio Carboni; and Calvi's bodyguard Silvano Vittor. All the defendants have denied involvement.
Calvi had connections to the Vatican administration and was sometimes called "God's banker." The Vatican Bank was found to own a piece of Banco Ambrosiano when that institution failed just before Calvi's death. At the time, it was Italy's largest bank failure. Banco Ambrosiano is believed to have helped launder money for the Mafia. Calvi is theorized to have skimmed some of the money for himself.

Facing a four-year sentence in connection with the bank collapse, Calvi traveled to London in 1982.
Calvi was also linked with the secret Masonic lodge known as P2, which might in turn have had links to a right-wing terrorist organization. Among other activities, P2 is believed to have been involved in the bombing of a Bologna railway station in 1980. The P2 organization's leader, Licio Gelli, reportedly worked with Mafia leaders on a plan for Sicilian secession from Italy in the 1990s. That movement is blamed for the killings of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; author of Wrongly Executed?; coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime; contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime; writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.