UK: Leviev wins court battle over Angola diamonds

London judge dismisses claims by Gaydamak that Leviev didn't pay him commissions, dividends on diamonds trading in Africa.

Arkady Gaydamak (photo credit: REUTERS)
Arkady Gaydamak
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON - A court battle between two multi-millionaires who fell out after making a fortune from Angolan diamonds ended on Friday when Arkady Gaydamak lost his bid to reclaim hundreds of millions of dollars he said he was owed by "king of diamonds" Lev Leviev.
The two are among a handful of buccaneering businessmen who have made fortunes in countries like Angola, Congo and Guinea, securing positions of influence that have helped their companies profit hugely from the continent's rich natural resources.
The case, brought by the Russian-Israeli tycoon over disputed unpaid commissions and dividends against Uzbekistan-born Israeli Leviev, also involved testimony on the roles of a Russian rabbi and an Angolan general - and was heard in London.
It was the latest of a rash of cases brought by billionaires from Russia and the former Soviet republics to the august courtrooms of the British capital, revealing at times a clash of cultures - and some less than complimentary comments.
Gaydamak, described by the judge as a "volatile and impulsive character" who was "distinctly prone to exaggeration", became involved in Angolan business and politics in the 1990s.
He claimed to have suggested to the Angolan government that it obtain control of the country's diamond industry at the height of the civil war so as to cut off the rebels' flow of cash from so-called "blood diamonds".
Angola is one of the world's most significant diamond producers and has long been attractive to traders and buyers.
Gaydamak also said he was instrumental in setting up Ascorp, the Angolan Diamond Selling Corporation, which had sole purchasing rights to Angolan diamonds.
He said he had tried to make Leviev, a renowned diamond trader, a front man for his activities because of a French inquiry into illegal arms supplies. Gaydamak was later cleared of involvement in such supplies.