Arcadi Gaydamak Gets Prison Leave To Give Evidence In Israel

Arkady Gaydamak, a Jerusalem mayoral candidate, prays at the Western wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem November 11, 2008. The Israeli mayoral election will be held today. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (JERUSALEM)

Businessman Arcadi Gaydamak today arrived straight from a French prison to testify at the Tel Aviv District Court in the hearing of his petition to have businessman Nahum Galmor declared bankrupt.

Gaydamak is alleging that Galmor owes him $140 million.

Gaydamak was granted special leave by the authorities in France, where he is serving a three-year prison term for his involvement in the “Angola-Gate” affair, and after Judge Hanna Plinner rejected his request to testify by video conference call.

Due to a last-minute change, however, Gaydamak, while present in court today, will testify only next week.

The French Appeals Court in Paris convicted Gaydamak of tax offenses and money laundering in the weapons trafficking affair referred to as Angola-Gate, and sentenced him to a three-year term. In November 2015, following talks with French law authorities, Gaydamak went to France to serve his term.

In March 2015, before entering prison, Gaydamak petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to declare Galmor bankrupt, asserting that Galmor owed him $140 million. Gaydamak alleged that Galmor owed him this amount under a settlement signed by the two men in 2011, and was evading payment. Galmor denies the allegations, and says he does not owe money to Gaydamak.

In January, Plinner dismissed Gaydamak’s petition to testify by video conference call. “Gaydamak initiated this proceeding, and he is the one who selected the proceeding and the forum for conducting it.

If he insists on the current forum and the current proceeding, despite Galmor’s claims, he cannot have it both ways by going through the proceeding he himself initiated other than in the usual way, and without enabling the Court to hear his testimony,” Plinner ruled.

The judge further wrote that Gaydamak’s cross-examination in a video conference call should not be allowed, because he had not submitted a statement, and without a statement, it could not be decided whether his petition to the court was filed in good faith.

Plinner also noted that according to Jewish religious law, when one of the parties in a proceeding is going to testify, it is very important that the court be able to gain an impression of his testimony on the witness stand.

Gaydamak’s legal representative, Advocate Israel Shalev, said in the hearing that the Supreme Court in Paris had dismissed Gaydamak’s petition to travel to Israel in order to testify because of the video conference call option.

In view of the court ruling, Gaydamak again petitioned the French court, explaining the situation and asking that he be allowed to give testimony in Israel.

AdvocatesTal Shapira and Meirav Bar-Zik from the Shapira Kafri Bar-Zik law firm and the Caspi & Co. law firm are representing Galmor, and Shalev and Advocate Assaf Oren are representing Gaydamak.

Gaydamak and Galmor were previously joint defendants in a criminal trial for their involvement in a money laundering case at Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI), which ended with no convictions for money laundering.

In February 2012, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Zvi Garfinkel convicted the defendants in the affair under a plea bargain, including Gaydamak and Galmor, of a series of relatively minor offenses, and gave the convicted men suspended sentences and fines.

According to their confessions, Gaydamak and Galmor were convicted of deception not involving fraud, and were fined NIS 21,000 each and given one-year suspended sentences. They were also ordered to donate NIS 3 million each to the Custodian General.

Other defendants convicted together with Gaydamak and Galmor included former Poalim Trust Services chairman Shlomo Recht, who was convicted of corporate executive offenses and given a one-year suspended sentence and NIS 21,000 fine. Former Poalim Trust Services CEO Haim Shamir was convicted of offenses under the Banking Ordinance, and received a one-year suspended sentence and a NIS 15,000 fine.

Poalim Trust Services was convicted of executive offenses and offenses under the Banking Law, and was fined NIS 42,000. The company also paid the Custodian General NIS 9 million.

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