On March 20, 2012 security cameras film a man stepping off the London metro. He then walked to an apartment complex in East London and waited patiently. Some time later, a Russian banker and businessman rushed into his apartment building and was gunned down right inside the door. Neighbors describe the scene as a blood bath. The gunman was the same man that was seen stepping off public transportation a few hours before. The banker survived. It didn’t take investigators long to discover that the shooter was a hired assassin.
Over the last decade, this Russian businessman, Gherman Gorbuntsov, had served as banker for some of the most influential people in his country. His clients included the Russian Railways—one of the most powerful companies and one of the largest state owned institutions in the nation that is managed by the Kremlin.
Four years before the attempted murder, he had a fall out with some of his partners. He took refuge in the Republic of Moldova, which is an infamous money-laundering hub. His activities there did not go unnoticed and he was forced to flee again. This time he went to London.
The Republic of Moldova is now requesting Gorbuntsov’s extradition from the United Kingdom for financial crimes. However, since he is the victim of an attempted assassination, he’s claiming that as a reason to not be extradited.
As the plot thickens an organization emerges that is considered the most dangerous crime group in the region. It’s headed by a man named Ion Druta who is wanted by the Interpol for incitement to murder and arms trafficking. The group provides criminal services for oligarchs, politicians, and other crime groups who are soliciting murder, extortion, or debt collection. Despite being under investigation for ordering at least five assassinations, the leader remains free.
On camera, Druta is modest about his underworld credentials. He speaks about his innocence and uses the fact that he consented to be interviewed as proof of this. However, he ranks third in a dangerous group that’s under investigation for mafia related activities. The assassins for hire are recruited in prison and local gyms all across Europe.
This is a documentary film that was produced by The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). It’s the result of a two-year investigation that includes gathering information in Russia, Moldova, Transnistria, and London. The film examines a violent feud between a handful of businessmen who are well connected to the Kremlin, and the criminal groups and assassins that they hire to settle their scores. Assassins don’t have long lives, they say.