U.S. religious aid workers may have helped Tycoon launder millions

Mordechai Korf and Uriel Laber traveled to Ukraine as Jewish humanitarian volunteers as the country gained its independence in the early 1990s, .

Korf was still a teenager just out of school when he arrived in 1991. His friend Laber, whom he met in Detroit, came a few years later.

When they returned to the United States more than a decade later, they were — on paper at least — running an empire whose assets ranged from steel and alloy plants to industrial tires and real estate that cost more than $1 billion.

They purchased homes in Miami and were donating millions of dollars to Jewish charities, earning reputations as generous philanthropists.

They are mow accused by the U.S. Justice Department of helping two Ukrainian tycoons over the course of a decade launder hundreds of millions of dollars in misappropriated funds from a Kyiv-based bank and then invest the ill-gotten wealth in U.S. assets.

Those Tycoons, Ihor Kolomoyskiy, and his associate, Hennadiy Boholyubov, have denied the accusations, saying the money used to purchase the U.S. assets that Korf and Laber now run came from the sale of their Ukrainian steel business to a Russian competitor for $2 billion.

Neither the tycoons nor the Miami businessmen have been criminally charged yet; the Justice Department lawsuit announced on August 6 is a civil action aimed at seizing assets deemed to have been ill-gotten.

Two days prior to the Justice Department’s announcement, FBI agents raided the Miami penthouse office of Korf and Laber from which they run the companies beneficially owned by Kolomoyskiy and Boholyubov.

Korf and Laber, through their attorney Marc Kasowitz, denied the U.S. government’s allegations.

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