Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 34 Members And Associates Of Two Russian-American Organized Crime Enterprises With Operating International Sportsbooks That Laundered More Than $100 Million
Twelve Defendants Charged with Racketeering, Others Charged with Crimes Including Money Laundering, Extortion, Fraud, and Operating Illegal Poker Rooms in New York City
One of the Enterprises Allegedly Laundered Tens of Millions of Dollars from Russia and the Ukraine through Cyprus Shell Companies and Bank Accounts into the United States
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Toni Weirauch, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), and Raymond W. Kelly, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced today the unsealing of charges against 34 alleged members and associates of two related Russian-American organized crime enterprises, including a Russian “Vor,” for a range of offenses including the operation of at least two international bookmaking organizations – or “sportsbooks” – that catered to multi-millionaires and billionaires in the U.S., Russia, and the Ukraine. One enterprise, the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, run by VADIM TRINCHER, is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars from Russia and the Ukraine through Cyprus and into the U.S. The other enterprise, the Nahmad-Trincher Organization, run by ILLYA TRINCHER, the son of VADIM TRINCHER, is alleged to have been financed by, among other entities, a prestigious art gallery in New York City.
In connection with the Indictment unsealed today in the Southern District of New York, 29 defendants have been arrested in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Los Angeles. The 20 defendants taken into custody today in New York were presented and arraigned in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV this afternoon. The remaining defendants arrested today will be presented in federal court in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Los Angeles this afternoon. An additional defendant, HILLEL NAHMAD, is expected to surrender in Los Angeles later today. The remaining four defendants – DONALD McCALMONT, BRYAN ZURIFF, WILLIAM EDLER, and ALIMZHAN TOKHTAKHOUNOV – are fugitives and are still being sought.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, these criminal enterprises were vast and many-tentacled, with one of them reaching across the Atlantic to launder tens of millions of dollars from Russia to the U.S. via Cyprus and in some cases, back again. International money laundering is a serious offense, and we will do everything within our power to inhibit those who seek to sanitize the proceeds of crime through legitimate investment vehicles in this country from doing so.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said: “Today’s charges demonstrate the scope and reach of Russian organized crime. One of the principal defendants is a notorious Russian ‘thief-in-law’ allegedly directing an international conspiracy through Cyprus to the U.S. The defendants are alleged to have handled untold millions in illegal wagers placed by millionaires and billionaires, laundered millions, and in some cases are themselves multimillionaires. Crime pays only until you are arrested and prosecuted.”
IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Toni Weirauch said: “International money laundering is not a victimless crime. Rather, it is a national and global threat that can provide criminal enterprises with resources to conduct further illegal activity. The laundering of illegal gambling proceeds, in particular, facilitates the underground, untaxed economy which, in turn, harms our nation’s economic strength.”
NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “The subjects in this case ran high-stakes illegal poker games and online gambling, proceeds from which are alleged to have been funneled to organized crime overseas. The one thing they didn't bet on was the New York City police and federal investigators’ attention. I commend the NYPD Organized Crime Investigations Division and their partners in the FBI and U.S. Attorney Bharara's office for identifying and bringing the members of this organization to justice.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court and other court documents:
The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization
The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization is a nationwide criminal enterprise with strong ties to Russia and Ukraine. The leadership of the organization ran an international sportsbook that catered primarily to Russian oligarchs living in Russia and Ukraine and throughout the world. The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization laundered tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from the gambling operation from Russia and the Ukraine through shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus, and from Cyprus into the U.S. Once the money arrived in the U.S, it was either laundered through additional shell companies or invested in seemingly legitimate investments, such as hedge funds or real estate.
The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization operated under the protection of ALIMZHAN TOKHTAKHOUNOV, who is known as a “Vor,” a term translated as “Thief-in-Law,” that refers to a member of a select group of high-level criminals from the former Soviet Union. TOKHTAKHOUNOV used his status as a Vor to resolve disputes with clients of the high-stakes illegal gambling operation with implicit and sometimes explicit threats of violence and economic harm. During a single two-month period, TOKHTAKHOUNOV was paid $10 million for his services by the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization. TOKHTAKHOUNOV is also under indictment in the Southern District of New York for his alleged involvement in bribing officials at the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Nahmad-Trincher Organization is a nationwide criminal enterprise with leadership in Los Angeles, California, and New York City. The organization ran a high-stakes illegal gambling business that catered primarily to multi-millionaire and billionaire clients. The organization utilized several online gambling websites that operated illegally in the U.S. Debts owed to the Nahmad-Trincher Organization sometimes reached hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions. One client, who lost approximately two million dollars to the organization, surrendered his plumbing company to the organization as payment of the debt.
The Nahmad-Trincher Organization was financed by, among others, HILLEL NAHMAD, a/k/a “Helly,” and the art gallery he operates in New York City, the Helly Nahmad Gallery. NAMHAD is also charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with the sale of a painting worth approximately $250,000.
The organization laundered tens of millions of dollars through various companies and bank accounts. It was assisted in its money laundering by RONALD UY, a branch manager at a bank in New York City. UY advised ILLYA TRINCHER on how to structure financial transactions so as to avoid bank reporting requirements.
Illegal Poker Rooms
The Indictment also charges various defendants with promoting and operating high-stakes illegal poker rooms in and around New York City, including EDWIN TING, MOLLY BLOOM, and EUGENE TRINCHER, who is the son of VADIM and brother of ILLYA. The poker games operated by the defendants resulted in gambling debts as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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A chart containing the ages, residency information, and charges against the defendants, as well as the maximum penalties they face is attached.
Mr. Bharara thanked the FBI, specifically the Eurasian Organized Crime Squad of the New York Office, IRS-CI, and the NYPD for their work in the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harris Fischman, Peter Skinner, and Joshua A. Naftalis of the Organized Crime Unit are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Wilson of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit is responsible for the forfeiture aspects of the case.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.