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Associates of billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak announced this week he would freeze a $50 million donation he promised to the Jewish Agency last year. A total of $10m. of the promised gift has already been transferred.
The money in question was intended for Jewish Zionist education in the former Soviet Union and to support youth at risk in Israel. Instead, say sources close to Gaydamak, the Agency scaled down its activities in the FSU. The donation freeze comes due to his perception that "the Agency broke the [donation] agreement."
Furthermore, the sources accuse the Agency of failing to provide adequate records of where the initial $10m. went, claiming it was not used for the purposes listed in the written agreement signed in January 2006.
The sources also allege that the Jewish Agency agreed the money would be handled jointly, "but it wasn't."
"These accusations are simply untrue and I can show this to anyone who desires," replied Jewish Agency spokesman Yarden Vatikai. "Every record, every agreement, every article and what every penny was spent on can be shown."
"Gaydamak is really not our only donor," he said, noting that the Agency works with "thousands of others, federations, the UJC, Keren Hayesod, and more. We follow the money pedantically, with a sophisticated system of expense reporting, and it's all on record."
Vatikai maintained that "the Jewish Agency is abiding by every article of the agreement - including establishing a fund, placing Gaydamak at its head, reporting procedures, and such - and we are sure Gaydamak will abide by them, too. We have also said that if there's anything to talk about, we're happy to talk."