Local case has Gaydamak's Israeli holdings hanging in the balance

Local case has Gaydamak

October 28, 2009 22:51
2 minute read.

Although Russian-Israeli billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak has been in the news for a pair of indictments in Paris Tuesday totaling nearly $175 million and six years in prison, a smaller lawsuit from last month may soon prove to have a larger impact on his Israeli holdings. On September 21, a Tel Aviv district court ordered Gaydamak to pay Levi Kushnir and Balram Chainrai nearly $27 million over disputed shares of Ameris Holdings Ltd. As part of the ruling, Kushnir and Chainrai obtained seizure orders on a number of Gaydamak's holdings in order to assure their debt. Included in that seizure order were Jerusalem's Bikur Holim Hospital and Betar Jerusalem Sports Club, as well as his Caesarea house and a number of cars. Gaydamak purchased Bikur Holim in August 2007 for $32 million, and purchased Betar Jerusalem in July 2005 for an undisclosed sum. Since then, however, both institutions have lost enough money to the point where both were named in the court's seizure order last month. Israel Shalev, one of Gaydamak's lawyers, confirmed that Gaydamak still owns Betar, but would later not comment on the status of Bikur Holim. Gaydamak has been trying to sell the hospital for several months. The Jerusalem Post reported in March that Kupat Holim Meuhedet was "involved in serious negotiations with Gaydamak's representatives" to buy the hospital, and some reports listed its value at the time at less than $9m. But as of now, no deal has officially been made. Though Gaydamak still owns Betar, he has relinquished some of his power to Brazilian-born Israeli businessman Guma Aguiar. The CEO of Leor Energy invested over $4m. into Betar in July, which was necessary to keep the team out of bankruptcy. Gaydamak also has a Herzliya home that has been on the market for a number of months, and is reportedly asking for $4m.-$4.5m. In 2006 he attempted to come to the rescue of the prestigious but financially ailing French newspaper, Paris Soir, but because he was wanted in France for allegedly smuggling arms to Angola, he was blacklisted by the legal authorities, despite his pledge that none of the publication's workers would be fired if he became the new proprietor a proposal that was favored by staff members of the publication. Portsmouth, a British soccer club, was bought by Gaydamak's son Alexandre in 2006. Arkadi later publicly stated that he was the actual owner, a statement that was refuted by the Premier League and the soccer club. Alexandre then sold Portsmouth this July to United Arab Emirates businessman Sulaiman Al Fahim, who recently sold the team this month. Gaydamak is currently avoiding his French prison sentence in his Moscow home - there is no Russia-France extradition law - but may return here in the near future to stand trial for money-laundering, along with top Bank Hapoalim officials. While his freedom hangs in the balance, so does the future of his various Israeli assets.

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