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Billionaire Gaydamak Sentenced To Six Years For Weapons Trafficking

gam.jpgRussian-Israeli tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak was given a six-year prison sentence on Tuesday by a Paris court, for his role in a weapons scandal that became known as “Angolagate”.

He has been charged with 790 million dollars worth of arms trafficking to the Angolan government in the nineties, illegal lobbying and money laundering.

Gaydamak, 57, who was absent from the hearing, now lives in Russia where he has been involved in several businesses since the fall of the Soviet Union.

A total of 42 politicians, businessmen and prominent French figures were brought to trial during the past year over the Angola scandal, which first erupted in the year 2000 after seven years of illicit trafficking.

French arms dealer Pierre Falcone, Gaydamak’s business partner, was also given a six-year prison sentence. Jean-Cristophe Miterrand, son of late former French president Francois Miterrand, was given a suspended two-year sentence and a hefty fine. Former French interior minister Charles Pasque was fined for 100,000 euros and given a one-year jail sentence.

The trafficking deal supplied weapons, warships and other military equipment to Angolan President José Eduardo de Santos, enabling him to win the Angolan civil war with the Unita insurgents which ended in 2002 and left 500,000 dead and tens of thousands maimed by the munitions.

Gaydamak is as flamboyant as he is controversial.

Known for his haughty manners and sartorial elegance, Gaydamak made a name for himself in Israel by handing out cash-stuffed envelopes to the needy in Jerusalem streets.

He holds several passports — Angolan, Canadian, Israeli, Russian and French — and has been the focus of criminal probes in several countries.

He had to pay a 2.5 million-dollar bond to leave Israel for Russia, where he is now believed to have been living since November 2008.

Gaydamak was born in the then Soviet Union in 1952 and first moved to Israel in 1972.

He left after six months for France, but moved back to the Jewish state again in 2000 after the French authorities started investigating Angolagate.

His extravagant lifestyle caught the public eye as he lavishly donated millions of dollars to an array of causes, even handing out cash at street corners.

His purchase of the popular football club Beitar Jerusalem and basketball team Hapoel Jerusalem helped further burnish his image inside Israel.

In 2006, the media-savvy would-be politician set up a massive holiday camp near Tel Aviv for residents of northern Israel fleeing rockets fired by the Lebanese Hezbollah Shiite militia during the war in July-August.

Later that year, he also invited 1,000 residents of the southern city of Sderot on an all-expenses-paid Red Sea holiday so they could enjoy a respite from Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

In 2007 he launched the “Social Justice” party, promising to forge peace between Arabs and Jews and claiming to be the most popular man in Israel but failing to make any political inroads.

He also made an unsuccessful run for mayor of Jerusalem in November last year.

Indicted in Israel for money laundering, he fled the country in 2008 after his businesses collapsed, leaving him deeply in debt.

Some of his investments in Israel had raised eyebrows, including the 2007 acquisition of a 53 percent stake in Ocif Investment and Development for whichlocal media said he paid twice the market value.

(Source: EJP / AFP)

One Response

  1. The French are less than several decades from complete Shari’ah law. AG apparently was cutting into the French arms market which has been supplying the enemies of America for years.

    Allez au diable, en France!

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