Russia Protects Alleged Mobster Accused of Olympic Judge Bribes

FBI, Interpol warrants ignored for Russian charged with fixing 2002 event.

ByABC News
January 28, 2014, 12:53 PM

Jan. 28, 2014 — -- Russia continues to provide safe haven for the alleged Russian mafia boss accused of bribing judges at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, in one of the worst Olympic scandals ever.

Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov lives a life of luxury in Moscow despite an Interpol arrest warrant, known as a red notice.

"It's never been enforced," said Mike Gaeta, the FBI agent who heads the Eurasian Organized Crime Section in New York. "Frankly, there's not much that we can do unless he voluntarily decides to show up at [New York's] JFK [airport] one day."

Tokhtakhounov, 65, described by the FBI as a current "major player" in the Russian mafia, was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2002 for attempting to fix the pairs figure skating competition using bribes and threats.

After first being arrested in Italy, Tokhtakhounov was released on bail and fled to Moscow. In interviews with reporters, including ABC News', he has denied any wrongdoing and allegations he is a major mafia figure.

"I'm a good person, I live quietly here. I have children," he told ABC News in a phone interview from his Moscow apartment. "Ask the law enforcement here, they will say there is nothing."

The FBI says Tokhtakhounov, known by the nickname "Little Taiwanese," has continued his life of crime while living in Moscow, as a leader of the organized crime group called the "thieves-in-law."

"Because of his status, we have kept tabs on his activities," said FBI agent Gaeta.

Tokhtakhounov was indicted by a U.S. grand jury for a second time last year, charged with running a $10 million international gambling and money laundering operation.

Of the 34 individuals named in the indictment, 33 were arrested. Twenty six of them have pled guilty.

Tokhtakhounov told ABC News he has no current plans to attend the Olympics in Sochi.

"It's too cold," he said. "I'll be watching the Olympics on my TV at home in the warm."

Representatives for the Russian government in Moscow and at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. did not return requests for comment for this report Monday.

Patrick Reevel is a freelance journalist based in Moscow, Russia.

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