Russian-Israeli business tycoon Arkady Gaydamak lost a London court battle last Friday against Israeli diamantaire Lev Leviev after the judge ruled that Gaydamak was not, as he alleged, owed hundreds of millions of dollars from the pair's disputed Angolan diamond business.
Moreover, on Monday, the English High Court ordered Gaydamak to pay Leviev the equivalent of about US$1 million in legal costs, and Judge Geoffrey Vos denied the request of Gaydamak to appeal against the dismissal of the case, reports Israel's Globes Online.
The case against Leviev focuses on Gaydamak's claims of unpaid commissions and dividends - worth anywhere from hundreds of millions dollars to at least US$1 billion - from the Angolan diamond venture in which the two magnates supposedly shared a stake, according to media reports.
Gaydamak's suit claims that after becoming involved in Angola in the 1990s, he 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 stem the rebels' flow of cash from so-called conflict diamonds. Gaydamak also says he was instrumental in setting up Ascorp, the Angolan Diamond Selling Corporation, which had sole purchasing rights to Angolan rough diamonds. According to Gaydamak, he invited Leviev to join the venture, as the front man for his activities, and in 2000, they had agreed to divide ownership of Ascorp and to share the profits from its diamond exports.
Speaking by video link from Israel because of an outstanding French tax charge, Gaydamak told the High Court on the first day of the trial that he believed he was entitled to about half Leviev's diamond assets in Angola, reports Reuters. His argument was based on his claim that there was a written agreement to this effect between the two multi-millionaires that was dated December 2001.
Leviev, however, denied signing the agreement, which was reportedly entrusted to the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar, who consequently lost the document.
Gaydamak also reportedly argues in his claim that Leviev agreed to hold their joint assets, in particular their share in Ascorp, which closed in 2003, and any income from those assets, on trust in equal shares.
Leviev's lawyers counter-argued that those claims were compromised by a settlement agreement between the two men in August 2011 in which Gaydamak signed away his rights to the assets. Gaydamak said he was induced to sign the latter agreement.
According to Reuters, High Court judge Geoffrey Vos said in his 70-page ruling on Friday: "I find that the 2001 agreement was indeed signed by Mr Gaydamak and Mr Leviev, and was a valid and enforceable agreement. But the parties entered a valid and binding settlement agreement which took effect on August 6 2011, whereby each party released all claims against the other. Accordingly the claim will be dismissed."