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The luxury furniture company Casa Armani has filed a NIS 1.9 million claim against Arcadi Gaydamak at the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court, claiming that the businessman failed to pay for most of the 530,000 Euros' worth of furniture he had ordered. Meanwhile, Gaydamak made charges of his own against Meretz parliamentarian Ran Cohen, who had tabled a bill that would block public office before people who had made sizable donations to public causes, to prevent the potential for abuse.

Casa Armani alleges that the design plans and furniture were chosen and ordered by Gaydamak, but that only 40% of the bill has been paid so far. The firm claims that it has been trying to collect the balance since late 2007 when another 40% was to have been paid on shipment, and the balance on arrival to Israel. Indeed the container arrived in December 2007, Casa Armani says.

Gaydamak's representatives, Casa says, offered a variety of explanations in the interim, claiming "cash flow" difficulties and promising that payment would be executed "soon," or "next week." The company's claim includes NIS 1.8 million for the balance due on payment for the furniture, and another NIS 90,000 for its subsequent storage.

Gaydamak's attorney said in response that the matter would be clarified in court. "Casa Armani and architect Oded Aloni made false representations to Gaydamak, and attempted to defraud him of hundreds of thousands of euros," the lawyer stated.

In other news about the headline-generating billionaire, Gaydamak attacked a bill submitted by Knesset member Ran Cohen that aims to prevent any citizen who has donated more than a million shekels to public causes from running for Knesset office.

"I am ashamed of people like Ran Cohen, who sit in our Knesset," Gaydamak stated yesterday. He called Cohen's bill "anti-democratic" on the grounds that every citizen is entitled to run for office.

"Cohen suggests that citizens who offer help are not entitled to do so," Gaydamak told a meeting of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee yesterday. It was perfectly clear that "the people" would like to see people like himself, rather than Cohen, in parliament, Gaydamak added.

The committee deferred voting on Ran Cohen's proposal, pending further discussion.

Cohen explained that he had submitted the bill to prevent a situation whereby philanthropy could be abused, and to stop people from buying state power with money. He had no intention of stopping anyone from running for the Knesset, he added.