A number of the 34 individuals accused of running an international gambling ring based in the U.S. and Russia were arraigned in a New York City Courtroom yesterday, and that means more juicy details about the organization's clandestine activities.
According to an indictment filed by federal authorities earlier this week, for years the Nahmad-Trincher and Taiwanchik-Trincher groups catered to the poker and sports betting needs of the world's most rich and powerful — oligarchs, Hollywood stars, Wall Street bankers and more.
All the while, they laundered their ill-gotten gains through banks and businesses all over the world, using violence to intimidate clients when they could not settle their debts.
At yesterday's arraignment, reports GalleristNY, Judge James C. Francis spent most of his time on Arthur Azen. Azen faces 115 years in jail, more jail time than any other defendant, and a $2.25 million fine.
Even though he wasn't a leader of either Trincher group, the prosecution argued that Azen had a hand in every sector of the gambling business, collecting money, distributing it through the organization, and making sure that debts were paid.
“Mr. Azen’s job is basically to suck money out of Titan and funnel it to” other defendants, said one of the prosecutors.
The prosecution also stated that Mr. Azen sent mixed martial arts fighters to collect from one of the Nahmad-Trincher organization’s debtors. The federal agents monitoring Mr. Azen were apparently “so concerned” for the wellbeing of a person who owed money that they intervened on one occasion by sending in police officers to protect the debtor.
The defense explained that Mr. Azen was “managing and promoting” mixed martial arts fighters, not using them to intimidate debtors.
The Trincher groups' alleged leaders were not at the arraignment, and getting them to a NYC Courtroom may be a delicate and diplomatic operation.
According to authorities, the leaders of the Trincher groups were Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, Vadim Trincher, his son Ilya Trincher, and billionaire art dealer Hillel "Helly" Nahmad.
Tokhtakhounov, based in Russia, has been in trouble with U.S. authorities before. He was accused of trying to rig the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and was detained at his Tuscan villa in 2002.
The "Vor" (basically Russian for "Godfather") managed to stay in Europe, however, when Italian authorities overturned his extradition order to the United States. He has been linked to powerful politicians in Russia, including Vladimir Putin, says the NYT.
Helly Nahmad is another story. The police raided his family's Upper East Side gallery on Tuesday, but he was in Los Angeles where he was supposed to surrender to authorities later that day — he has yet to be found.
The Nahmad family is one of the wealthiest art dealing families in the world. Their roots are in Aleppo, Syria where the family scion (also named Hillel) first made his mark on the world of banking.
Eventually, the family made its way to Europe and then to NYC, where one of the two Helly Nahmad Galleries is located.
The family is known both for its incredible up to 5,000 piece private collection (90% of which is held in storage) and its secrecy. Forbes estimates 34 year-old Helly's father's wealth at $1.75 billion.
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