Monday, February 26, 2007

Is Gaydamak the Israeli Equivalent of Khodorkovsky?

I am starting to believe there is something about Russian businessmen when they involve themselves in the political process which innately rubs governments the wrong way. Think Yukos, and now Gaydamak. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
Arkadi Gaydamak, the Russian immigrant billionaire who last week announced the establishment of a movement for "social justice," found himself on the hot seat Sunday when police questioned him about a scandal surrounding an allegedly forged letter.

The interrogation concerned a criminal investigation led by Cmdr. Yohanan Danino of the Investigations and Intelligence Division of the Police which was opened two weeks ago as a result of suspicion that someone forged an official document concerning Gaydamak. In State Attorney Eran Shendar's findings, which he submitted to the police, the letter was found to be generated with the intent of damaging the appearance of the Israeli law enforcement community.

Gaydamak, who has been repeatedly investigated by police for a series of offenses, said upon entering the police station late Sunday morning that this was simply the latest attempt to discredit him. "I haven't done anything," said the businessman. "The police are pursuing me because of my criticism of them." "It is especially interesting that I was called for investigation only a number of days after I established a new party," he added. Despite his claims that he was a hapless victim of a police conspiracy, the billionaire was questioned by detectives of the National Fraud Squad at the unit's Bat Yam headquarters for over four hours.

In the possibly forged letter, which was ostensibly sent from the Justice Ministry to Russian law enforcement authorities, a senior ministry official requested that Russian authorities hand over information about Gaydamak and requested Russian cooperation in the event that Israel decided to arrest the billionaire. The letter also accused Gaydamak of laundering money in Israel and of "trying to bring down the Israeli government." Shendar reviewed the matter and discovered that the document did not apparently originate in the Justice Ministry.

But the investigation into Gaydamak does tend to veer off in some strange directions. Ynet News carries this report.:
Business mogul Arcadi Gaydamak will be investigated by the National Fraud Unit Monday following suspicion he gave perks to the prime minister's bureau chief Shula Zaken.

Zaken was suspended for six months at the beginning of February, due to suspicions against her in the alleged bribery affair at the Tax Authority. During a search of Zaken's house police found tickets to the VIP box at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. According to suspicions, Zaken purchased the tickets from Gaydamak at a discounted price.

Gaydamak is the owner of the Beitar Yerushalayim Soccer Club. On Sunday, the Israeli-Russian tycoon was interrogated for four hours by the Fraud Unit, as part of an investigation into the alleged forgery of an official document signed by the Justice Ministry's supervisor of international affairs.

Gaydamak has taken a number of actions as a private citizen which has shown the Kadima coalition to be a singularly inept administration. For instance, during last summer’s war with Lebanon, Gaydamak paid out of his own pocket for a number of tents cities to be established whose sole purpose was to provide a temporary safe haven for citizens in the north to get away from Hezbollah’s rocket fire. Apparently, the idea of moving civilians from the line of fire has never really entered into the Kadima administration consciousness or plans.

Last week Gaydamak announced the establishment of a political party whose sole purpose was to represent social justice issues and would forge ties with Likud fraction. Gaydamak would remain party chairman but would not stand for political office himself. This week we learn he is under investigation for a multitude of alleged offences.

I’ve got to wonder if the beneficiaries were anyone other than Jews would anyone in the Israeli government care, and more importantly; is there now an Israeli equivalent to Siberia?

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