Top court won’t hear out Dedzhaldeti

Alleged fraudster charged in connection with Russian billionaire’s disappearance.

311_gavel (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Supreme Court refused on Sunday an appeal by Nissim Dedzhaldeti, one of three men charged with serious fraud offenses connected with the 2009 disappearance of Russian oligarch Alexei Zakharenko.
Dedzhaldeti had appealed against a lower court ruling to temporarily seize some of his business assets, including Swiss bank accounts, a fleet of Audis and company bank accounts, for the duration of the trial.
Dedzhaldeti was arrested and indicted earlier this year along with two others, Elena Meller and Ron Zahavi, following a lengthy undercover police operation.
According to the indictment against him, Dedzhaldeti forged a power of attorney in order to transfer all of Zakharenko’s Israeli property to himself. As a result, he obtained assets worth millions of shekels.
The indictment also includes a charge that Dedzhaldeti harassed bank officials who had been investigated in connection with the case.
Dedzhaldeti is also charged with aggravated fraud and money laundering offenses following Zakharenko’s disappearance.
Zakharenko, a Russian oligarch whose business interests included restaurants in Moscow and St. Petersburg as well a ski resort, disappeared in mysterious circumstances in his native St. Petersburg in August 2009.
The businessman left his St. Petersburg penthouse to go to a meeting on the morning of August 4, but never returned.
Police discovered his black S-class Mercedes abandoned on the outskirts of the city.
Zakharenko had decided to invest in Israel in 2008. He opened a luxury restaurant, the RDB, on Tel Aviv’s Montefiore Street with celebrity chef Ronen Dovrat-Bloch.
However, that restaurant fell into financial difficulties and after successfully suing Dovrat- Bloch, Zakharenko opened another restaurant, the Pushkin, on the same site, this time in partnership with Dedzhaldeti.
In July 2009, a month before his disappearance, Zakharenko and Dedzhaldeti bought an offshore company, Sealand, through which they purchased property in Herzliya.
During Zakharenko’s visits to Israel, the third defendant, Elena Meller, acted as a translator as Zakharenko did not speak Hebrew and Dedzhaldeti and Zahavi, who provided legal services to Zakharenko, do not speak Russian.
However, days after Zakharenko’s mysterious disappearance, Dedzhaldeti, Meller and Zahavi are alleged to have used forged documents to seize control of the Russian’s Israeli business interests.
In a hearing in the Tel Aviv District Court in July, Judge Chaled Kabub issued an injunction to temporarily seize Dedzhaldeti’s assets for the duration of the trial.
In ruling to reject Dedzhaldeti’s appeal against that injunction, Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levi said that the charges of fraud and money laundering against Dedzhaldeti, including that he used forged documents to receive assets belonging to Zakharenko, were such that he could not remove the injunction.
The judge ruled that it was in the public interest for the courts to seize the property of defendants in cases like these.