How Two U.S. Religious Aid Workers May Have Helped A Ukrainian Tycoon Launder Millions

In the early 1990s, Mordechai Korf and Uriel Laber traveled to Ukraine as Jewish humanitarian volunteers as the country gained its independence and ended Soviet restrictions on religion.

Korf was still a teenager just out of a rabbinical institute when he arrived in 1991. His friend Laber, whom he met at a religious school 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 a commercial empire from Miami whose assets ranged from steel and alloy plants to industrial tires and real estate that cost more than $1 billion to cobble together.

Korf and Laber purchased lavish homes in Miami Beach. Each were donating millions of dollars to Jewish charities, earning themselves reputations as generous philanthropists.

Now the story of two young humanitarian workers with little to no business experience striking it rich during Ukraine’s turbulent — and sometimes violent — transition to a market economy is under question.

They are 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, profiting handsomely in the process.


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