A Mossad Agent, an International Hedge Fund and the Mysterious Death of an Argentinian Prosecutor

On Ilana Dayan's Channel 12 program, a former Mossad member claims he handed an envelope to Alberto Nisman that might have gotten him killed

Hagai Amit
Hagai Amit
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Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA community center, talks to journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 29, 2013.
Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA community center, talks to journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 29, 2013. Credit: Associated Press
Hagai Amit
Hagai Amit

The mysterious death of Argentinian federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman continues to confound. He was fatally shot in his apartment in January 2015, hours before he was set to present serious allegations in congress against then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

But an interview with former Mossad member Uzi Shaya on Ilana Dayan's Channel 12 program "Uvda" may shed new light on Nisman's fate. Just a few days before Nisman's death, Shaya says he handed the prosecutor an envelope containing documents allegedly incriminating the president in corruption.

Shaya says in the interview: “I brought a certain type of information to his attention, which could be what caused his death … material which apparently had to do with all sorts of monetary transfers by senior Argentinians that tie them to Iran.”

Uzi Shaya in 2007.Credit: Nir Keidar

Dayan asks if the information pertains to bank accounts belonging to Kirchner and her son. Shaya answers in the affirmative. The end goal, he says was to put material incriminating Kirchner into his hands, "for him to have material incriminating their bank accounts – not only hers, but those of others as well.”

Nisman had accused Kirchner of covering up Iran's alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center, which killed 85 people – the deadliest terrorist attack in Argentina's history. Nisman had accused Kirchner, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and others in her administration of sweeping Iran's involvement under the rug in exchange for good deals on oil imports and other Iranian goods. Iran has denied involvement, and Kirchner has denied the accusations.

Rescue workers search for survivors and victims in the rubble left after a powerful car bomb destroyed the Buenos Aires headquarters of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA), killing 85 peopCredit: REUTERS

A deadly debt

Through his work with the Shin Bet and later the Mossad, Shaya had known Nisman since the early 2000's. At the time, Nisman headed a team to investigate the AMIA bombing. Israeli intelligence services aided the investigation efforts, along with the FBI and CIA. Shaya says Israel provided Argentina at the time with information proving Iranian and Hezbollah involvement in that attack.

Shaya tells Dayan that he got back in touch with Nisman about two years before his death and provided him with material, this time on behalf of the American hedge fund Elliott Management.

Elliott Management is an activist hedge fund that seeks out opportunities the world over. In Israel, for example, it held 5 percent of Bezeq’s stock in 2018-2019. In the past, it purchased a hefty chunk of Germany's ThyssenKrupp. In March, it purchased a significant chunk of stock in Twitter.

The giant fund waged a protracted legal battle to recover a debt in the billions of dollars from the government of Argentina. Kirchner objected to paying the debt, and even denounced Elliott Management as a “fund that devours carcasses,” which made her an obstacle to the corporation's debt-recovery efforts.

Shaya was not working directly for the fund, but for an American investigative firm that provided services to the fund's owner, Jewish billionaire Paul Singer. Singer is one of the U.S. Republican Party’s biggest donors. He financed an association in Israel, Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) whose aim was to exhibit Israel to foreign investors and technology firms.

According to Shaya, the fund wanted to receive the payments that Argentina owed to it, and was attempting to pressure Kirchner to pay the debt through the materials gathered on her and her family members.

If Kirchner knew that Nisman was aware of the bank accounts that belonged to her, Dayan asks, she may have gotten the hint and repaid the debt? Shaya believes so.

Shaya notes that he never mentioned to Nisman that he was no longer working for the Mossad, but, he said, "he knew." Shaya claims that the fund was unaware of his ties with Nisman, and that he approached him solely of his own accord.

Not worth dying for

In December 2014, Nisman went on vacation in Europe. The next month, Shaya set up a clandestine meeting with him in a European capital. The aim was to hand Nisman an envelope filled with documents that would appear to incriminate the Argentinian president and her family members for receiving millions of dollars from Iran, deposited in secret bank accounts in the Seychelles, Cayman Islands and Cyprus.

“There was a great deal of material," Shaya says, "about Christina-Iran, private accounts, money that disappeared. Everything they could find on the president.”

Immediately after their meeting, Nisman surprisingly cut short his vacation and flew to Buenos Aires. On January 14, 2015 he lodged a formal complaint against the Argentinian president accusing her of a cover-up in the investigation into the AMIA attack.

On the night of January 18, a day before he was to present his findings against Kirchner before congress, the prosecutor’s body was found in his bathroom. He had been shot in the head with one bullet. The incriminating documents Shaya had given him were never found. “It was clear to me that he had been murdered,” Shaya tells Dayan.

"And of all the things you’ve done in your life, this somehow weighs on you?" Dayan asks.

Shaya says yes. "In the end it’s about business, not the state … its business… it’s not something that is worth dying for.”

If what Shaya says is true, he should find himself summoned to testify in the investigation of this unsolved murder. The key to it was supposed to have been in the documents he says he gave Nisman.

When asked by Uvda whether the fund had given Nisman, via Shaya, evidence against Kirchner at the time, and what those documents entailed, senior figures at the Elliott Management Corporation said they were not aware of the existence of any such documents, nor their handoff to an investigation firm, and from there to anyone else.

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