Police Seek Charges Against Gaydamak

Police yesterday recommended to State Prosecutor Eran Shendar that Russian-Israeli billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak be charged for failing to report the movement of $52 million in his accounts.

Police are not claiming Gaydamak necessarily laundered the $52 million, but his failure to report the money would violate Israel's law against money laundering.

Gaydamak says he can prove the $52 million is not profits from weapons sales, drug or human trafficking. He maintains therefore, that he did not launder the money and has only committed a technical violation of the money-laundering law.

Police note their investigation did not even examine the money's origin but dealt only with Gaydamak's failure to report in accordance with the law.

Gaydamak owns two leading sports teams and has extensive business dealings.

Last year, he announced his intention to run in March 28 elections, hoping to gain the support of about one million Russian immigrants, but failed to follow through.

Police transferred Gaydamak's case to Shendar, recommending that there is enough evidence to convict him, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. Police have questioned him on the case several times. In several interviews, Gaydamak has insisted he is innocent.

If charged, Gaydamak's case could be the largest money-laundering scandal in Israeli history. He could face 10 years in jail, Channel 10 reported.

Gaydamak also has an international arrest warrant against him in connection with the alleged smuggling of weapons to Angola. His Israeli citizenship protects him from extradition.