Notícies :: corrupció i poder
Aliyah and the Oligarchs
per Mary La Rosa
25 mar 2005
While international news medias focused on Arafat's Swiss bank account, an investigation into one of the largest money laundering scandals in Israel's history has been tightening an investigative net around suspects already linked to nefarious arms deals, murder, conflict diamonds and state departments in other nations.
Mary La Rosa • 10 March 2005
So far, there are three major "suspects" involved with the case and associated (along with many others yet to be disclosed) with the laundering of millions and millions of dollars. These three bring not only dual citizenships, but a vast baggage and even a trail of international warrants and concerns. It appears that organized crime and organized politick have been finely interwoven so that, by Israel's past standard, those considered suspect and/or criminal by other countries have not only been allowed entry and refuge, but have been allowed further profit with better ability to hide those profits. These three suspects have major influence and media control but will probably implicate Israel's richest circles and largest banks.
While non violent Jewish peace activists, such as Kate Raphael of International Women's Peace Service, are detained and deported because of organizing and witnessing non violent resistance in ongoing struggle of rural Palestinian villages under siege by Israeli soldiers, it seems that Israel shows much less discrimination in allowing oligarchs with underworld ties free entry, aliyah and even further protection of their "racket".
Another American, Patrick O'Connor of the International Solidarity movement was arrested for planting olive trees in Biddu and was taken in shackles to court where he was silenced and later deported. While Israel continues to persecute NON VIOLENT human rights activists, one must wonder about the selection process that has allowed men, suspected of years of organized crimes and profiteering to enter and find shelter in Israel. And in a land where Mordechai Vanunu has been punished and is still being punished, as a traitor for the act of whistleblowing his concerns about a "secret" nuclear arsenal, preferential treatment seems to always follow the money trail.
So far, three major Russian oligarchs have fallen under suspicion in this latest scandal that is just beginning to rock major banking foundations in Israel. All three have serious past issues and backgrounds that read like characters from an old James Bond story.
In 2001 Vladimir Gusinsky fled from Spain to Israel in order to escape his Moscow prosecutors. The Spanish government later declared that his alleged fraud offenses were not really considered crimes in Spain. Russian prosecutors pursued him again under another international warrant. Mr Gusinsky escaped prosecution by seeking shelter in Israel where he is now part owner and a media magnate, owning one of Israel's largest daily papers, Maariv International. Haaretz recently provided information about how Gusinsky laundered his dollars and shekels.
Leonid Nevzlin is presently still a murder case suspect in Russia. His business "opportunities" involved the collapse of the Yukos oil company. He is one of Russia's Golden Hundred.
Arkady Gaydamak (his Hebrew name Ari Barlev) has been linked to arms dealing and para military training from 1994-2000. According to an Israeli listing of rich folk, similar to Forbes, Arkady is worth about 800 million, known dollars.
To Israel's credit, the Israel Money Laundering Prohibition Authority was launched in 2002 and since its beginning, has seriously monitored all types of suspicious transaction reports, especially involving banks and insurance companies. Not to Israel's credit, has been its past page history of ignoring the wealthy criminal element who are seeking refuge, further financial gain and tax shelters via their aliyah. And it appears that for many years, Israel provided safe haven for the scoundrel and gangster element who legally sought to evade justice from other foreign authorities by declaring themselves citizens of Israel.
Amid acusations of anti semitism, France has been critical and vocal about Israel previously not living up to its commitment against money laundering and underworld profiteering. Under the guise of aliyah, gangsters have had the ability to launder profits in Israel. This has had grave consequences and repercussions on Israel and the rest of the world.
Some of the alleged criminals who fled Russia and other countries where even the best legal advice may not have served to keep them unfettered, seem to have slid right into polite society by making huge contributions to very good causes.
Gaydamak contributed a million dollars to fund the victims of Sept 11th in the USA. But just previous to the 9 -11 attacks Gaydamak had fled France where he was wanted for illegal gun running. tax evasion and money laundering! As a New Yorker grievously affected by 9-11, I vividly recall the mayor of New York City refusing money from a Saudi prince . Mayor Giuliani was either ignorant or not so discriminating when it came to Gaydamak. At a later date he even visited Israel and had dinner with Ariel Sharon AND Gaydamak. There was not the same hesitation applied to the Saudi Prince.
Gaydamak stands accused of financially benefiting from gun running in both Angola and Afghanistan. A million dollars will often buy access into many types of political circles and the New York City mayor never thought twice to accept money from Gaydamak. Charity and the politick of charity has afforded Mr Gaydamak a few cozy Israeli political connections as well. He has close association with the present government. He has a business partner who is former Israeli tourism minister and ex IDF chief of staff. His other business associate is Danny Yatom, who once headed the Mossad. Gaydamak also employed another former Mossad head, Avi Dagan.
While Gaydamak insists he was "financier of deals" and NOT an arms dealer, a two year investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveals him as a post Cold War entrepreneur with ties to arms smuggling and para military force training, including forces trained and sent to Lebanon.
He has no formal education and claims most of his riches come from "luck".
In the seventies he had much closer ties to France. He opened a "translation" bureau near Paris and opened a branch in Canada. While still in Russia, his post Soviet power structure included connections that facilitated the purchasing of old Soviet and East European weapons systems that had a marketing value in Africa, Asia and South America. In a 1995 Interpol communique from Russia, Gaydamak was suspected of drug and firearms trafficking. In 1995, Russian authorities said that Gaydamak had these same connections and was also exercising threats to the Bank of Russian Credit. Russian Interpol contacted French Interpol and in 1996, Russian Interpol said Gaydamak was "under suspicion" . Gaydamak appears to "buy" protection through his many charities, but in 2000, AngolaGate erupted and directly involved French politicians, including the son of former President Francois Mitterand. At that time Gaydamak had a French partner Pierre Joseph Falcone, who had inherited strong organized ties to arms dealing in Venezuela and Argentina.
Business opportunities in arms dealing was everywhere! is everywhere!
"I knew Russia had an interest in ridding itself of extra weapons and was greatly i need of cash," Gaydamak told Israeli publication "Yediot Aharanot" in January 2000. "So I initiated a deal in which Angola would sell oil franchises and with the money earned buy weapons from Russian Defense ministry."
"Naturally I received a handsome commission, but was not party to the deal."
Angola in the nineties became a splendid place to make money and fortunes were made dealing arms and/or diamonds.
Prosecutors in Paris have documents that allegedly prove that Falcone (who is now in prison) and Gaydamak again masked "conflict" trade through yet another company.
Vast Impex furnished weapons to Angola up until 2000.
Gaydamak's "Strategic Consulting Group" created a private military company and another commercial opportunity for Gaydamak. He teamed up with two former Mossad officials, Danny Yatom and Avi Dagan. Gaydamak eluded arrest and moved to Israel, where he claimed he had forgotten his military service. AngolaGate had arrived and once more the accused was protected.
The United States has recently been forced to pay closer attention to its relationship with Israel, perhaps even to have finally made a healthier distance between politicians and non political organizations that attempt to influence and impose political codes and morals. In the past we have allowed criminals such as the Israeli computer hacker who hacked into our NASA defense system to be returned to Israel for "gentler" punishment. How would an American have been treated for such crime? Ze'ev Rosenstein has recently been charged by the United States with smuggling hundreds of thousands of ecstasy pills into this country over a long period of time and making a vast fortune at it. His lawyer is fighting extradition to the United States because the punishment would be greater in the American courts. What will Israel do?
The fact that laundering moneys used to devastate other nations and support horrible regimes is now held accountable in Israel, really gives the righteous citizen, including righteous Israeli citizen cause for hope. However, with such officials as those who would condone, even wine and dine with racketeers, there may not be the lung capacity to hold one's breath waiting for either justice or an end to Occupation.
Mary La Rosa is a librarian who lives close to NYC where she can be found drumming for peace.
References and Full Links:
This work is in the public domain