As we come to the 2018 Winter Olympics, an alleged Russian organized crime boss retains a long-standing world record as the sole person ever indicted for fixing a gold medal.
Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov remains a fugitive as the “Vor” or crime boss behind Skategate, the fixing of pairs figure skating and perhaps also the pairs ice dancing at the 2002 Winter Olympics. He was indicted by none other than James Comey, who was then the Manhattan U.S. attorney.
“He arranged for a classic quid pro quo. ‘You line up support for the Russian pair and we’ll line up support for the French pair, and everybody will go away with the gold, and perhaps there’ll be a little bit of gold for me,’” Comey said when announcing the charges.
As if that were not enough, Tokhtakhounov went on also to be indicted in 2013 for running a criminal organization involved in money laundering and arms trafficking, as well as a multimillion-dollar gambling operation based in Trump Tower, three floors directly below the penthouse of the man who is now our president.
Tokhtakhounov—also known as “Alik” and “Tiwanchik”— is now doubly indicted in the United States, but safely ensconced in his native Russia. He likely remains disappointed in having still failed to achieve what the feds say was his ultimate goal in Skategate: securing a renewed visa that would allow him to resume living in France.
According to press accounts, Tokhtakhounov moved from Russia to France in the late 1980s. He reportedly became a kind of expat Vor, described in court papers as being the go-to Russian mafia boss in Paris, engaged in, “among other things, drug distribution, illegal firearms sales, and trafficking in stolen vehicles.” He settled into a beautiful apartment in the 16th arrondissement, reportedly purchased on his behalf by a Russian-Israeli-French émigré named Arcadi Gaydamak, who figured in a scandal of his own known as Angolagate, which eventually embroiled embroiled Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of the French president.
In court documents, Gaydamak is said to have to have facilitated the sale of $790 million in weapons during the Angola civil war, from 1993 to 1998. Tokhtakhounov’s other pals are said to include Michael Cherney, who figured in the bloody “aluminum wars” in the 1990s for control of the Russian metals business.