Businessmen accused of Ukraine money laundering gave millions to NY charities

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Dozens of New York’s Jewish organizations have had their bottom lines bolstered by two businessmen accused of laundering billions for a Burisma-connected Ukrainian oligarch, public records show. 

Mordechai Korf, 48, and Uri Laber, 49, have shelled out more than $11 million to nearly 70 yeshivas and religious charities in Brooklyn and across the state, according to federal tax filings.

But Korf and Laber are more than just generous benefactors: since 2006, the Miami-based pair have allegedly been middlemen for Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, funneling $4 billion of his ill-gotten gains to buy property and businesses in the U.S, according to three civil lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in Florida federal court.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken banned Kolomoisky and his immediate family from America, citing Kolomoisky’s “significant corruption.” The billionaire has long been accused of repeatedly raiding PrivatBank, a Ukrainian bank he once co-owned, legal filings show.

Yeshiva that received the laundered cash -- Colel Chabad, 806 Eastern Parkway.
Colel Chabad at 806 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, which received laundered cash.
J.C.Rice

Kolomoisky, who built his fortune during the lawless years immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union, reportedly has a controlling interest in Burisma, the Ukrainian oil and gas company which put President Biden’s son, Hunter, on its board of directors in 2014 at a salary of $50,000 per month. Kolomoisky dispatched his private army to take over companies and destroy a Russian-owned oil and gas refinery in Dnipropetrovsk in 2014, according to reports.

Kolomoisky and a partner, Gennadiy Boholiubov, are accused of taking out billions in fraudulent loans and lines of credit from PrivatBank, which they co-owned, funneling the cash through a “web of entities” created by Korf and Laber.

Korf and Laber — who met Kolomoisky decades ago while working and volunteering in the Ukrainian province he governed — gave a total of more than $1.4 million to Brooklyn’s Jewish Educational Media, and nearly $1 million to the Manhattan-based Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States, nine countries which banded together after the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union].

Miami businessman Mordechai “Motti” Korf
Miami businessman Mordechai “Motti” Korf

Laber is listed as a board member of Jewish Educational Media, a nonprofit which promotes the work of the late Grand Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, the Ukraine-born spiritual leader of the Chabad Lubavitcher movement.

Colel Chabad, a Brooklyn charity for orphans and widows, received $466,647 between 2006 and 2013 from Laber Foundation Inc., while the Korf Family Foundation Inc. gave $476,000 between 2006 and 2013 to the charity.

Authorities have not accused the charities of wrongdoing.

Korf and Laber also face a civil lawsuit in Delaware from PrivatBank, and could have to forfeit millions worth of real estate and companies they purchased if the federal lawsuits from the DOJ succeed. No criminal charges have been filed.

While it is unclear if the two men used their charity connections to launder cash, experts say nonprofits are often used to avoid taxes and hide funds. 

“Charities could certainly be part of an incestuous collection of legal entities that make it very difficult to follow the money,” said Laurie Styron, executive director of Charity Watch.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Ellis Kaplan

If the DOJ’s lawsuits against Korf and Laber succeed, the charities may be forced to return the cash, even if the organizations did nothing wrong themselves, said Styron.

The Post reached out to at least 10 of the organizations Korf and Laber donated to, including Jewish Educational Media, but messages were not returned.

“Mr. Korf and Mr. Laber have never had any dealings with laundered money and any allegations to the contrary are patently false and irresponsible,” said attorney Marc Kasowitz. “They are very proud of their longstanding charitable contributions and the good that those contributions have brought.”

A lawyer for Kolomoisky did not return messages.

Members of the Jewish Lubavitcher sect who live in sprawling Miami mansions, Korf and Laber have strong ties to Brooklyn and the Ukraine, where they met. Korf’s parents were tasked by Schneerson to establish a Lubavitcher community in Miami, according to The Forward.

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