Israel Charges Gaydamak With Fraud


gaydamakIsraeli authorities charged Russian-born tycoon Arkady Gaydamak, who has fled the country, with fraud and money laundering, according to court documents filed today. Prosecutors say Gaydamak conspired with senior Israeli banking executives to conceal financial activities worth around $175 million. Officers of one of Israel’s leading banks were also indicted.Gaydamak became a celebrity in Israel even though he did not speak Hebrew and despite a checkered past. He faces an international arrest warrant because of a French investigation into alleged arms trafficking to Angola in the early 1990s.

He bought a popular football club in Yerushalayim  and underwrote high-profile philanthropic projects, like a beachside vacation village for Israelis fleeing Hezbollah rocket fire in the north of the country in 2006.

He left Israel late last year for Russia under a growing cloud of suspicion of financial crimes, and after his campaign to become mayor of Yerushalayim ended in a humiliating defeat.

One of the charges listed in the indictment against him involves the attempted purchase of a Dutch company through a front-man with the help of officials at Poalim Trust Services, a subsidiary of Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s second-largest bank.

Gaydamak faces charges of fraud for failing to declare himself the company’s true buyer.

Two senior Poalim directors and the company’s legal adviser were also named in the indictment, along with a lower-ranking staffer at one of the bank’s branches.

Gaydamak’s lawyer, David Libai, rejected the accusations against his client.

“Arkady Gaydamak has asked me to announce that he intends to return to Israel for his trial in order to show that there is no substance to the charge and to prove that he is being wrongfully persecuted,” Libai said in a statement.

{Yair Israel}