Elvira Kudryashova – businesswoman, toy merchant, and professional money launderer – has had a harder life than most of us will ever know. She was forced to flee her native Kazakhstan in 2008 when her stepfather, Viktor Khrapunov, and his partner, Mukhtar Ablyazov, stole $7.5 billion from a bank that Ablyazov owned. Her brother, Ilyas, married Ablyazov’s daughter, moved to Switzerland, and was put in charge of managing the stolen money. But poor Elvira had to move to America and make it on her own in a land where no one could correctly say her last name.
Lucky for her, America is a land of great opportunity, and Elvira’s family did not abandon her entirely. After all, what better place is there to launder stolen money than American real estate – a shopping mall in Ohio, a mental hospital in New York, and even several expensive condos in the prestigious Trump SoHo in Manhattan. And like any good American girl, Elvira chased her own dream of moving to Los Angeles, where there was just enough money left over for her and her husband, Dmitry, to buy a modest $6.5 million mansion in Hollywood that she would later sell to musician Bruno Mars.
Not one to show off her success, Elvira decided to keep working while living her American dream. She and her husband opened matching businesses in the posh Los Angeles suburb of Costa Mesa – Anthill ShopNPlay, a high-end toy store, and Winehill ShopNDrink, for the more adult crowd. Elvira seems to have brought the best of her family’s traditions and values to her American business – employee reviews for the toy store on Glassdoor note that the “boss bribes you a lot.”
But life presents challenges for small business owners and professional money launderers, and Elvira is no exception. The pandemic was a frightening time for a simple woman trying to sell high-end toys and expensive liquor while defending herself in court from charges related to the stolen money. Thankfully, Elvira could rely on the wealth and generosity of the United States government to help her and her husband in their time of need while they had to isolate in their mansion. Elvira’s businesses applied for and received $211,497 in government loans in 2020 and 2021 under the US’ Paycheck Protection Program. Not only were these loans interest-free, but they were forgiven entirely. With the pandemic finally over, Elvira can go on living her American dream – at least until the authorities find the stolen money.