MANHATTAN (CN) - A businessman claims in court that he was defamed by being made the Queen of Spades in a deck of Russian mafia trading cards.
Victor Remsha sued the Institute for Russian Research, RussianMafiaCards.com, four people, and Squarespace Inc., in New York County Supreme Court. He demands $50 million.
Remsha, 43, is the founder of co-plaintiff Finam Investment Holding, financial services, which has subsidiary companies worldwide, including WhoTrades Inc., a member of NASDAQ, according to his website.
In May 2013, the Institute for Russian Research set up a website and issued press releases that it had created a deck of cards "featuring the faces of key figures in the Russian mafia," according to the 28-page complaint.
Remsha claims that as the "Queen of Spades," the cards linked him to money laundering, securities fraud and other crimes.
He claims the defendants' website identified him as "A founder of Finam financial services company helping members of the Russian mafia to legalize their assets overseas. Finam is helping many aces (linchpins) of the Russian mafia to execute transactions, to buy assets and transfer money from overseas to Russia."
The defendants' release said the deck was created to raise awareness among law enforcement, legislators and the media that the Russian mafia is playing a big role in American crime, according to the complaint.
Remsha says the website was taken down after his attorney sent cease and desist letters. But the defamatory statements can still be found in archive searches and on other websites, including many in Russia.
The mafia cards emerged just as Remsha and Finam were seeking business partners in the United States, he says.
Besides the immediate economic damages created by the mafia card, Remsha claims that he has suffered from mental anguish, loss of business opportunities and irreparable harm to his reputation.
The Institute of Russian Research could not be contacted for this story. Its website has expired and there is no other mention of the group on the web.
According to the complaint, when its website was working, there was no physical address listed for the institute. A call to the phone number listed for the institute in the complaint was not returned.
Phone calls to Eugenie A. Voitkevich, the attorney representing Remsha, were not returned.
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