Angola-gate case goes on without ‘extraordinary operator’

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That was then . . .

One chapter of the Center’s 2002 report Making a Killing: The Business of War was devoted to Arcadi Gaydamak, whom we described as “one of the most extraordinary operators in world business.” In 1993 and 1994 he and his French business partner, Pierre Falcone, arranged for $633 million in arms to be shipped from Russia and other Eastern European countries to the government of Angola, then engaged in a civil war. The United Nations had imposed an arms embargo on Angola, and France maintained that Falcone’s company did not have government authorization for the sales.

After the “Angola-gate” scandal broke in France in 2000, Gaydamak lived primarily in Israel, where he owned three comfortable homes and enjoyed access to an international fortune of at least a billion dollars. In France, he was indicted on charges of illegal gun running, tax evasion, money laundering, and corruption.

And this is now . . .

Gaydamak is still an “extraordinary operator.” If Jerusalem were New York, he would be some combination of Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, George Steinbrenner, and Michael Bloomberg. In addition to his many other commercial interests, he acquired a Moscow newspaper and soccer and basketball teams in Jerusalem. In 2007, he founded his own Israeli political party. Earlier this year, there were plans for a reality TV show in which Gaydamak would advise small businesses on increasing their profit margins, but it didn’t come to fruition.

On Monday, Gaydamak filed as a candidate in the November 11 election for mayor of Jerusalem. On the same day, in Paris, court proceedings began in the Angola-gate case involving Gaydamak, Falcone, and roughly 40 former French officials. The trial can proceed in absentia, but Gaydamak has reportedly said he has not decided whether to attend.

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