(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – Russian-born Israeli businessman Arcadi Gaydamak has lost a case in
London’s High Court against Bukharan-Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev that
centered on profits from the Angolan diamond industry.
This trial, which
played out in May and June of this year, looked at whether the two businessmen
signed an agreement over a deal to export gems from Angola, one of the world’s
biggest diamond producers.
Leviev denied signing an agreement with
Gaydamak in December 2001 potentially worth hundreds of millions of
The case focused on whether there was a binding and enforceable
agreement signed and entered into by both parties in 2001 and entrusted to Rabbi
Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia.
Leviev consistently and
strenuously denied that such an agreement existed, claiming the document was a
pledge by Gaydamak to make charitable donations to the Jewish community in
Lazar, having eventually admitted that he had been given an
envelope to look after, claimed to have either lost or destroyed
Justice Geoffrey Vos said in his ruling that the two men had made a
pact but said that the loss of the envelope was “convenient but hardly
coincidental.” He questioned why Lazar chose not to come to London to
testify and “his unwillingness to give evidence by video link as many other
The judge also upheld a settlement signed in August 2011
between the two in which Gaydamak agreed to drop all legal claims against
Leviev, which was brokered by the Angolan government in Luanda.
said the settlement was invalid, as he signed it after he was led to believe by
Angola’s Minister of State Gen. Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias ‘Kopelipa’ that he
would be paid compensation by Leviev.
However Vos upheld the agreement,
saying the settlement did not have any financial assurances.
wasn’t reliable, he was garrulous and unstructured in his answers and keen to
act as his own advocate rather than focusing on the questions,” Vos said in his
However the judge acknowledged Gaydamak’s role in
helping the Angolan Government gain control of the diamond industry at the
height of the country’s civil war, thus securing the benefits of exports for the
government and precluding their use by rebels.
In his ruling, the judge
also noted that Leviev approached the case with a sense of “arrogance” and had
effectively “re-written history” by questioning Gaydamak’s role in the
restructuring of the Angolan diamond mining and export
Gaydamak, who watched the trial by video link from Israel, said
he plans to appeal.
“I have said all along that I was bamboozled into
signing the settlement agreement as a result of the representations of Gen.
Kopelipa on behalf of Mr. Leviev. Pending the decision to appeal, the court has
recognized that I have told the truth throughout, it has recognized my immense
contribution to the Angolan diamond mining industry and wider economic and
political stability, and it has recognized that Mr.
Leviev and Rabbi
Lazar have, to my disappointment, consistently lied throughout.
welcome the judge’s findings on those key points,” Gaydamak said.