• Founder and CEO, Unicoin.com
    Unicoin is the official cryptocurrency of Unicorn Hunters which Forbes called “The most iconic business series of recent times”.
  • CEO, TransparentBusiness
    TransparentBusiness SaaS platform was designated by Citigroup as the Top People Management Solution
  • International Entrepreneur
    Created the largest bank in Russia by age of 25 before defecting to the United States in 1992 and starting from scratch.



January 26, 2004

By Deborah Charles

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday ruled that a former Russian banker, who has ties to a jailed Russian oil magnate, should not be deported until he exhausts his legal effort to seek asylum in the United States.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who has repeatedly accused the U.S. government of wanting to deport Alexander Konanykhin just to carry out a special deal with Moscow, said the banker could stay in the country to appeal his deportation.

Konanykhin had business ties to Mikhail Khodorkovsky -- the billionaire former chief of YUKOS oil company who is in jail in Russia on fraud and tax evasion charges. Khodorkovsky's arrest in October was widely viewed as orchestrated by the Kremlin to reign in his political ambitions.

Konanykhin, who is wanted in Russia on charges of embezzling millions of dollars from his former bank, fled Russia in late 1992 and came to the United States.

In court papers, he said the Russians would torture and kill him to get information, including about Khodorkovsky.

After a series of legal battles over his status in the United States, Konanykhin was granted asylum in 1999 by an Immigration Court judge who said Konanykhin had demonstrated a "well-founded fear of persecution" if he returned to Russia.

The government appealed and a Justice Department Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the court's decision in November 2003. It ruled that Konanykhin faced no risk of political persecution if he were sent back to Russia.


Konanykhin appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. He also sought a review of the Board of Immigrations Appeals decision. Both are pending.

While waiting for the appeals, Konanykhin and his wife were arrested in December by U.S. officials who prepared to deport him. Ellis stayed the deportation just as Konanykhin was about to board a flight to Moscow.

Ellis ruled on Monday that by arresting and trying to deport Konanykhin, the U.S. government had breached the terms of a 1997 deal with immigration authorities which lets him stay in the United States pending final outcome of his asylum request.

Ellis set a hearing for Wednesday to see if the government would appeal his ruling. Konanykhin would likely be released under house detention if the government appeals, Ellis said.

Konanykhin's lawyer, J.P. Szymkowicz, said his client was relieved by Ellis's decision.

"The Konanykhins are so relieved that they have a light at the end of the tunnel to look toward, and they look forward to the day when they can go to bed secure in their freedom," he said after the hearing.

Although Ellis often accused the government -- which does not have an extradition treaty with Russia -- of having an agreement with Moscow to deport Konanykhin, he admitted that he did not have jurisdiction over the actual deportation order.

"I hope somebody in the executive branch ... is proud, is able to stand up and say what we are doing is right," he said. "But I doubt that -- and it makes me a little angry."

Russian Immigrant
Russian Banker
Federal Judge

More News...

Washington Post:
Konanykhin, one of the first Russian millionaires after the fall of the commies, left in 1992 and was granted asylum here in 1999. He's built a very successful Web advertising business in New York City. He had been chosen "New York Businessman of the Year." "As such, you will be honored and presented with your award," NRCC chairman Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) said, at a "special ceremony" April 1. " President Bush and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are our special invited guests.
Alex Konanykhin controlled Russia's largest commercial bank in the 1990s
Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Konanykhin was a whiz-kid physics student who became a pioneering Russian capitalist in early 1990s, building a banking and investment empire valued at an estimated $300 million all by his mid-20s. He was a member of President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle.
The Sun:
Alex Konanykhin fled Russia in 1992 and won asylum in the US after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The entrepreneur had set up 100 different companies in Russia and had an estimated net worth of $300million by the time he was 25. He is regarded as one of the first Russian millionaires after the fall of the Iron Curtain. One of the newly open country's leading lights, he even met with US President George HW Bush in 1991 on a joint visit with Russian leader Boris Yeltsin. However, he was then kidnapped in 1992 while visiting Budapest and all of his business assets were seized in Russia. … Being hunted by the Russian state, Konanykhin won asylum in the US in 1997 and set up a new life - but the shadow of the Kremlin continued to loom over him.He went on to rebuild a business empire and set up multimillion dollar firms such as TransparentBusiness in the US.
The Deal:
... a New York-based software startup called TransparentBusiness Inc. has drawn backing from Fortune 500 executives through a relatively new type of securities offering called 506(c) as part of an effort to raise $10 million this year ... Alex Konanykhin, CEO of TransparentBusiness, said he decided to reach out directly to accredited investors by purchasing ads in financial publications. One particularly bold ad includes the figure, 90,000%, with a question mark next to it. Konanykhin said the ad speaks to the large market opportunity for his company's software, which helps governments eliminate fraud by verifying billable hours charged by outside contractors. ... One of the investors, Ken Arredondo, told The Deal he invested in TransparentBusiness and agreed to serve on its board of directors because of the company's strong management team and the huge market opportunity to increase transparency of outsourced contracts worldwide. He believes in the company's product and said it's unique. "It's a Saas-based, easy-to-use tool," he said. "There are a lot of technology players out there that are a lot bigger, but none of them have what they have. There will be competition, but they have the product now. They have first-mover advantage."
The Baltimore Sun:
Business whiz kid.
Russian Bill Gates.
The Times:
By the time he was 25 he was one of the most important figures in post-Communist Russia. But in 1992, while on a business trip to Hungary, Alex Konanykhine was kidnapped.
The New York Times:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation notified Konanykhin that Russian organized crime figures had paid to have him killed.
Los Angeles Daily Journal:
Representing himself through much of the process, Konanykhin managed to convince an immigration judge of an alleged INS and KGB conspiracy and cover-up. Following the court's admonishment, the INS agreed to drop all charges and also pay $100,000..The judge also ordered an investigation of the Justice Department. In separate actions, Konanykhine subsequently won multimillion dollar libel judgments against two Russian newspapers. A $100 million lawsuit against the Justice Department is pending, alleging perjury, fraud, torture and witness tampering by U.S government officers on behalf of the Russian Mafia.
Profit Magazine:
Imagine you are a teenage physics genius who quickly amasses a $300 million empire of real estate and banking ventures, has dozens of cars, six hundred employees, several mansions and two hundred bodyguards—but you are nonetheless kidnapped by those you trusted, threatened with torture and death, and have your entire empire stolen from you one dark night in Budapest. You escape with your life by racing through Eastern-block countries and flying to New York on stashed-away passports—only to have the KGB and Russian Mafia hell-bent on your hide and the U.S. government jailing you and conspiring to serve you up into their clutches. All this before your 29th birthday. Sound like a Tom Clancy thriller? No. . . just a slice in the life of Alexander Konanykhine.