Russian-Israeli tycoon Arkady Gaydamak, who bought the Betar Jerusalem soccer club and ran for mayor of the city, was indicted on Thursday in Tel Aviv District Court on charges of money-laundering to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The indictment included two top officials of the Bank Hapoalim Trust Services Company, Shlomo Recht, the chairman of the board, who was personally in charge of Gaydamak's account, and company general-manager Haim Shamir. Two other employees, Ram Levy and Keren Lalom, were indicted on one charge each. Gaydamak aide Nahum Galmor was also included in the indictment.
The charges against Gaydamak include receiving something by deceit in aggravated circumstances, taking action regarding forbidden property in order to hide or disguise its source, and taking action regarding property or providing false information in order to avoid submitting a report.
According to the indictment, in 2002 Gaydamak decided to buy the Dutch-based company Thermphost, which controls a large share of the European phosphate market. Since he was certain the company would not agree to be purchased by him, he decided to use his aide, Galmor, as a straw man.
Recht and Shamir cooperated with Gaydamak by submitting documents to the company and transferring funds in Galmor's name, even though they knew the money belonged to Gaydamak. All in all, Gaydamak paid $50 million for the purchase of the company.
According to another of the seven charges in the indictment, Gaydamak ordered the bank to transfer $30m. to the Kazphosphate Company, without stating where the money came from. Afterwards, he reached an agreement with Shamir that the money was a loan from the trust company.
On another occasion, Recht informed Gaydamak that the police had demanded information on his account. On the same day, Gaydamak ordered the bank to transfer $450m. out of the country, which amounted to almost all of his funds. Although Recht and Shamir knew about the transfer, they did not report it to the Authority to Prohibit Money-Laundering as they were obliged to by law.
Gaydamak left Israel last year and returned to Russia. However, Ynet quoted his lawyers, David Liba'i and Shlomo Ben-Ari, as saying he would return for the trial. When he left Israel, Gaydamak left NIS 4m. as a guarantee that he would return if indicted.