18 January 1992
Latest news on international kidnapping caseby the United Press International newswire

United Press International

Russia helps FBI end kidnapping

The end of the Cold War helped the FBI win the release of an Australian businessman and his wife who were kidnapped in Russia by business associates and held for $1.6 million ransom, a lawyer said Saturday.

Daniel and Ivonne Weinstock were held for eight days before former KGB agents, acting on information supplied by the FBI in Newark, N.J., freed the couple and arrested 10 Russians, said Dimitry Afanasiev, a Russian law expert who acted as a go-between for the formerly antagonistic agencies.

''It's funny because it was the first time in history that the two ever had a conference call together, at least that we know of,'' said Afanasiev.

The Philadelphia-based lawyer got involved when Weinstock's relative, Israel Rayman of Wayne, N.J., received a call from the businessman in Moscow on Jan. 8, asking Rayman to pay the ransom.

Afanasiev advised Rayman to alert the FBI, which then bugged the telephones and coached Rayman on how to stall the kidnappers.

Eventually, the frustated kidnappers left contact numbers on an FBI- rigged answering machine, and the information was passed on to Russia's Agency for Federal Security, a former division of the KGB, Afanasiev said.

On Jan. 15, Russian authorities raided a dacha 30 miles outside Moscow, arrested five people and freed Ivonne Weinstock, the FBI said. But at the time of the raid, Daniel Weinstock had been taken to the city to contact Rayman.

Several hours later, authorities burst into a Moscow hotel room, found Weinstock and arrested five more people, the FBI said.

Weinstock's kidnappers turned out to be associates angry over a $1.6 million deal for which they claim they were never compensated, Afanasiev said.

Weinstock, a partner in an electronics venture in Russia, had traveled to Moscow to placate the associates when they took him hostage, the lawyer said.

''This is another dividend derived as a result of the transformation which has occurred in what was the Soviet Union,'' said Gary Penrith, special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark office. ''Such close cooperation in a criminal investigation between these two agencies would have been heretofore unthinkable.''