The English High Court on Friday ruled in favor of Lev Leviev in the lawsuit brought against him by Arcadi Gaydamak for alleged non-payment of $2 billion in an Angolan diamond venture. Judge Geoffrey Vos ruled that Gaydamak was not reliable. In the 70-page ruling, the judge said, “He was garrulous and unstructured in his answers and keen to act as his own advocate rather than focusing on the questions."
Gaydamak says that he plans to appeal the ruling.
Gaydamak claimed that he invited Leviev to join the diamond venture after advising the Angolan government on licensing in 1998, and that, in 2000, they agreed to divide ownership of a new company, Angola Selling Corporation (Ascorp), to export diamonds from Angola and share the profit. Gaydamak claims that a signed copy of this agreement was deposited with the chief rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar. Gaydamak told the court by video conference in May that Lazar lost these documents.
Lazar said that a document had been deposited with him, but that he could not confirm the content. He also claimed that the document had accidently been shredded. He refused to appear in court to give testimony, which Judge Vos did not appreciate, saying that the rabbi's explanation for not appearing in court was unsatisfactory, and that he would not even give testimony by video like other witnesses.
Leviev claimed that he and Gaydamak had never signed such an agreement, and that Gaydamak had agreed in 2011 to forego his rights in Ascorp, as part of a settlement. Gaydamak responded on Friday, “I was bamboozled into signing the settlement agreement."
Vos concluded, "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 into a valid and binding settlement agreement which took effect on 6 August 2011, whereby each party released all claims against the other. Accordingly, the claim will be dismissed."
Although ruling in Leviev's favor Vos criticized Leviev for his “arrogance,” saying he “was re-writing the history, leaving some of the crucial characters out of the story."
The ruling shows that Vos found it difficult to believe either Leviev or Gaydamak. Vos doubted Leviev's claim that he and Gaydamak had never had shares in a profit-sharing agreement for the Angolan diamonds, saying that Leviev was not a credible witness, and that his denial of any kind of cooperation between him and Gaydamak is unbelievable, and in truth, not credible.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 1, 2012
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012