WikiLeaks: Russian mob laundered $10b with Israeli assets

"Organized crime in Israel now has global reach, with direct impact inside the US.

WikiLeaks has leaked a cable, dated 15 May 2009, from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the State Department and other US authorities, including the FBI, US Customers and Border Control, and the Department of Homeland Security, which states that the Israel Police and courts are incapable of dealing with organized crime. The cable says that the Embassy tries, not always successfully, to prevent the entry of Israeli organized crime figures into the US.

The cable, entitled "Israel, a Promised Land for Organized Crime?", then-US Ambassador James Cunningham wrote, "Organized crime (OC) has longstanding roots in Israel, but in recent years there has been a sharp increase in the reach and impact of OC networks. In seeking a competitive advantage in such lucrative trades as narcotics and prostitution, Israeli crime groups have demonstrated their ability and willingness to engage in violent attacks on each other with little regard for innocent bystanders.

"The Israeli National Police and the courts have engaged in a vigorous campaign against organized crime leaders, including the creation of a new specialized anti-OC unit, but they remain unable to cope with the full scope of the problem. Organized crime in Israel now has global reach, with direct impact inside the United States."

The cable's author demonstrates extensive knowledge of Israeli organized crime, possibly with the assistance of the FBI office at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. The cable discusses whether organized crime has infiltrated Israel's political life.

"It is not entirely clear to what extent OC elements have penetrated the Israeli establishment and corrupted public officials. The Israel Police insists that such instances are rare, despite the occasional revelation of crooked police officers in the press. Nevertheless, there have been several dramatic revelations in recent years that indicate a growing problem. In 2004, former government minister Gonen Segev was arrested for trying to smuggle thousands of ecstasy pills into Israel, a case that produced considerable circumstantial evidence of his involvement in OC. The election of Inbal Gavrieli to the Knesset in 2003 as a member of Likud raised concerns about OC influence in the party's Central Committee. Gavrieli is the daughter of a suspected crime boss, and she attempted to use her parliamentary immunity to block investigations into her father's business. (Gavrieli is no longer a member of the Knesset.)"

The cable extensively cites an anonymous source, called "xxxx". It is not clear who censored the name, but WikiLeaks says that it edits the material.

The cable notes "Israel's multi-ethnic population provides a deep well of opportunity for Israeli OC to expand into new territory." Most Israeli crime families trace their roots to their countries of origin, and this is also true of the Russian oligarchs and Jewish organized crime members. "Little is known about the full extent of Russian criminal activity in Israel, but sources in the police estimate that Russian OC has laundered as much as US $10 billion through Israeli holdings."

The cable adds, "The profit motive serves as a great unifier among Israel's diverse demographic groups. According to xxxxx, some Amsterdam-based Hasidic groups allegedly are implicated in international drug smuggling through links to Israeli OC. Arab and Jewish Israeli criminals routinely cooperate and form alliances to expand control of lucrative drug, car theft and extortion rackets. Even hostile and closed borders pose few obstacles to OC groups."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 2, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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