Gaydamak files police complaint against Leviev

Russian- Israeli tycoon contends that Leviev has not paid him commissions and dividends on diamonds trading in Africa since 2004.

By CHEN MA’ANIT, ELA LEVY-WEINRIB/GLOBES
January 5, 2012 06:58
4 minute read.
Gaydamak

Gaydamak. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Arkady Gaydamak has filed a complaint against Lev Leviev with the Israel Police in a dispute over African diamonds.

In the complaint, Gaydamak contends that Leviev has not paid him commissions and dividends on diamonds trading in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2004. He contends that the value of these is $2 billion.

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In a press statement, Gaydamak said: “In 1999, in cooperation with the Angolan government, I set up a new method for diamond exports. When the commercial structure for diamond exports was established, I invited Lev Leviev to manage parts of this commercial structure, under verbal and written agreements that included an equal share of the profits.

“Leviev and his partner Berel Lazar, Chabad’s chief rabbi in Russia, maliciously concealed the existence of the written contract. They subsequently fraudulently used the repercussions of the political persecution against me in France, organized a campaign to smear me in the media and made mendacious claims against me with the authorities in various countries around the world in order to fraudulently take from me my substantial profits, which totaled billions of dollars over 12 years from various businesses related to Angola.”

Acts can be considered criminal

“Leviev used sworn testimony, fraud and extortion against me and tried to avoid a ruling by the High Court in London in the statement of claim I filed against him to protect my rights,” the statement said. “Leviev’s acts can be considered criminal, which is why I filed a criminal complaint against him with the Israel Police.”

In December, the High Court’s deputy master nurse in London ruled that the case between them would go to trial on May 21. The judge ruled that there had been an agreement for Leviev to give Gaydamak half of his income from diamonds in Angola.

The agreement between the two men was apparently given to Lazar. Gaydamak claims he has not received the majority of the money from Leviev.

Leviev apparently made billions from the diamond industry, half of which he promised to Gaydamak, who did not want to be publicly associated with the sales at the time, the court said.

From friends to enemies

Leviev and Gaydamak used to be friends and business partners. In the early 2000s, Gaydamak owned 15 percent of Leviev-controlled Africa-Israel Investments Ltd., after buying 5% of the company from a foreign shareholder and 10% from Leviev for $56 million.

At the same time, Leviev and Gaydamak were both linked to the diamond industry in Africa and set up a diamond-trading company as a joint venture, ASCROP. There have been reports that Gaydamak brought Leviev into Angola’s diamond mines.

Shortly afterward, they parted ways and Gaydamak sold his Africa-Israel stake to Leviev at a negligible profit.

Gaydamak also became entangled in the Angola-based illegal arms scandal in France, although he was later acquitted on most of the charges. He was found guilty on lesser charges of arms trafficking and sentenced in absentia to three years in prison.

Last April, Gaydamak filed a statement of claim against Leviev in a London court, saying Leviev has not paid him commissions and dividends on diamonds trading in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2004. He contends that he received an average of $3m. a month from Leviev in 2000-03 and estimated the value of these is $2b.

The dispute concerns Gaydamak’s and Leviev’s business relations in ASCROP, whose shareholders also include the Angolan government and Antwerp-based Omega Diamonds BVBA, according to reports. Gaydamak contends that Leviev owns 24.5% of ASCROP and that his involvement in it is kept secret because they agreed that “Leviev’s public perception as an owner and the owner of the relevant assets is only as a matter of convenience.” Gaydamak also contends that Leviev is the trustee of Gaydamak stake.

Leviev is fighting against these charges, which he told a British newspaper are “embarrassing and hurtful.”

On March 1, 2006, Gaydamak’s attorney at the time wrote to Leviev: “My client intends to approach the Chabad chief rabbi in Russia, the honorable Rabbi Berel Lazar, with a request to send us a copy of the agreement deposited with him by you and by my client in the matter of your partnership in diamond transactions in Angola... The partnership in equal share between my client and you in Angola also concerns every other transaction carried out in Angola. You are hereby also requested to immediately send us every document, financial report and other information relating to other transactions conducted in Angola over the past six years.”

The day before, on February 28, the media reported that the Angolan government had canceled its diamondexport agreement with Gaydamak due to suspicions of breach of contract.

Last month, Gaydamak won an interim victory against Leviev, when the High Court in London ruled against Leviev’s petition to dismiss Gaydamak’s claim.


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