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Still missing in Iran


The State Department and the FBI seem to be spinning the story of Bob Levinson's disappearance in Iran.

A story by Robin Wright in today's Washington Post characterizes Levinson's background this way:

The ex-agent, whose name is not being disclosed by the State Department for privacy reasons, had a long career in investigating organized crime in the United States. A middle-aged man who retired from the FBI more than a decade ago, the American worked in private investigations for corporate clients, according to FBI spokesman John Miller. As an FBI agent, he was not assigned to terrorism or Middle East issues, officials said.

Here's a press release about him that appeared in 2006 on the website of SafirRosetti LLC:

Seasoned Investigator Robert Levinson to Head New Office

Robert A. Levinson, formerly the CEO of his own investigative firm, will head the division, which is located at 4530 Conference Way South, Boca Raton. The new office will significantly enhance SafirRosetti's accessibility to industries in Latin America and enable the firm, with a strong presence already in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, to help companies secure their facilities, fight counterfeiting, conduct due diligence and other investigations on a global scale.

Mr. Safir said, "The addition of Bob Levinson to our team gives us the ability to build a successful Latin American operation able to reach new markets, offering the skill and experience of an extremely seasoned professional."
Mr. Levinson said, "I am proud to join the SafirRosetti team and be part of what is becoming the most important sector of modern business - physical and intellectual security and protection."

Prior to joining SafirRosetti, Mr. Levinson was both the principal of R.A. Levinson & Associates, an investigative security firm, and also the Managing Director in charge of the Miami Office of Decision Strategies. In each of these capacities, Mr. Levinson directed worldwide investigations involving litigation support, the collection of business intelligence, due-diligence, product piracy, and threats to legitimate businesses.

Mr. Levinson was employed by the U.S. Department of Justice for 28 years, serving for six years as a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in its New York and Denver field offices and also at DEA Headquarters. Subsequently, Mr. Levinson transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and served that agency as a Special Agent in Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

While with the government, Mr. Levinson specialized in the investigation of international organized crime, international fraud, and money laundering activities. He served as a representative of the U.S. on a number of international organized crime task forces attacking such problems as the Colombian drug cartels and the criminal groups operating in the former Soviet Union.

During his government service, Mr. Levinson taught as a guest lecturer at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Academy in Ottawa, Canada, the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia and the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Budapest, Hungary.

SafirRosetti may be reached in Miami at 561-982-5338.

(Levinson, by the way, no longer appears on the SafirRosetti website.)

Here's another bio of Levinson from the website of Business Integrity International LLC, for whom he seems to have been working at the time of his disappearance:

Bob Levinson is a twenty-eight year veteran of both the DEA & FBI. He offers extensive international experience and has focused on criminal activities, business intelligence projects, asset location and recoveries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Russia and Europe. He has represented the USA while serving on international Task Forces dealing with organized criminal and money laundering activities in Europe, Russia/Eastern Block countries.

Previously he was the Managing Director for an international investigative firm and was responsible for consulting and directing investigations in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Russia and the former Soviet republics. Bob is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of CCNY, and a member of numerous organizations. Bob is fluent in Spanish and conversant in Russian.

Levinson also has his own private security business, R. A. Levinson & Associates. (His email account at BII still seems to be functioning, however.)

Levinson's emphasis in recent years has been money laundering cases, especially ones connected to Russia. (He was a witness in the trial of Russian mob boss Sergei Mikhailov.)

Here are some Levinson quotes from a 2003 article published on moneylaundering.com:

As of late 2003, Western law enforcement and security/intelligence agencies have been directed by their governments to afford the highest priority to counter-terrorism matters,” says Robert Levinson, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent with extensive experience combating Russian organized crime. “This has left a large gap in the detection of traditional money laundering organizations which service organized crime groups, drug trafficking networks, arms dealers and other international criminals, particularly from the former Soviet Union, "

Levinson, now with the investigative firm SafirRosetti, warns, “It has now become incumbent on financial institutions, multinationals, and other business organizations dealing on an international scale to insure that an adequate defense is mounted against those criminal groups seeking to exploit the fact that law enforcement is focused elsewhere. Russian organized crime and corrupt financial operatives are continuing efforts, begun in the 1990s, to penetrate Western business. The Bank of New York scandal was, for all intents and purposes, just a beginning.”

Levinson is extensively quoted as a source (p. 274: "the ex-FBI agent based in Miami who specialized in the Russian mafia") in Robert Friedman's 2000 book, Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America.

He was also interviewed extensively for the PBS Frontline documentary, Mafia Power Play: An investigation into the connections between Russian NHL players and Russian organized crime.

The production was directed by Neil Docherty of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who has done a number of other Frontline documentaries for PBS, including Canada: The Cell Next Door (2007)  Al Qaeda's New Front (2005) and, interestingly, Terror and Teheran (2002).

According to the Washington Post article:

The State Department said the missing man was going to meet someone to set up an interview or interviews for a project involving a book and a documentary by an independent producer and author believed to be from Canada, U.S. officials said.

Anyone want to wager that the "independent producer and author" was Neil Docherty?

And does anyone still believe Levinson's disappearance had nothing to do with Iran's ties to terrorism and international money laundering—or that it's just a another missing person case?

Don't forget to sign the Free Bobby! petition.

Posted by Rodger on April 3, 2007 at 07:54 PM | Permalink


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