Gaydamak to Sign $50m Donation Agreement With Jewish Agency

In return, billionaire sports team owner would be given right to influence agency policies.

The Jewish Agency is set to sign a donation agreement on Thursday with Russian billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak worth $50 million. In return for his donation, Gaydamak will be given membership in the agency's steering bodies and the right to influence agency policy.

The money is slated to be used for activities within Jewish communities in Russia and Ukraine.

Gaydamak, who is under investigation over money laundering suspicions, had announced the donation some time ago. However, after an article in Maariv newspaper reported that police had cautioned the Jewish Agency not to accept the money, he took offense and said last week he regretted the pledge and that he would stop investing in Israel.

He changed his mind again shortly afterward, and said he would continue to invest in Israel after all.

An official source in the agency had said in the past that there is no reason not to accept Gaydamak's donation, when he's also giving to other groups in Israel. However, other Jewish Agency sources told Haaretz that they see his gift as "a very big problem."

France issued an interational warrant for his arrest in the late 1990s, on the suspicion crimes of tax evasion and bribery. As a result, he was forced to leave France, where he had been living since 1972.