'King of Diamonds' Lev Leviev wins High Court battle over Angola deal

Deputy business EDitor

Arkady Gaydamak, the wealthy father of the former Portsmouth FC owner Sacha, yesterday lost the latest stage in his $2bn High Court battle against former business partner and so-called King of Diamonds, Lev Leviev.

It is a bitter blow for the colourful tycoon who has also taken legal action against Russia's top rabbi over the case.

The two millionaires have been at war for years over ownership of their lucrative diamond venture in Angola, with Mr Gaydamak claiming Mr Leviev effectively stole his half of the operation.

Mr Leviev, who lives in London, is one of the world's biggest diamond businessmen. He famously suffered one of the biggest heists in history at Cannes last year when a lone gunman walked into an exhibition of Leviev diamonds and stole an estimated £88.5m-worth of booty.

Mr Gaydamak, meanwhile, is best known in France for being implicated in the Angolagate scandal, in which former interior minister Charles Pasqua and late-president Francois Mitterand's son Jean-Christophe were alleged to have been involved in supplying arms to the Angolan government during the civil war, in breach of sanctions.

Mr Gaydamak was convicted over Angolagate by a French court in 2009, by which time he had gone on the run. He was sentenced to six years in prison. However, in 2011, the charges relating to the Angola affair were dropped and his jail term reduced to three years for money laundering and tax fraud. He remains a fugitive from France and has not come to the UK since as he would probably be extradited.

The row between the two men goes back to 2001, when, as controversy raged around him in France and elsewhere, Mr Gaydamak claims, he agreed for Mr Leviev to be the public face of his half of their lucrative diamond business in Angola, keeping his own 50 per cent stake secret. The pair signed a contract which Russia's Rabbi Berel Lazar kept for safekeeping –traditional in some Jewish business circles. The rabbi later apparently lost or destroyed it.

Hundreds of millions of dollars flowed from Mr Leviev to Mr Gaydamak under this arrangement until around 2005, when the funds stopped. Mr Gaydamak sued in London's High Court.

However, in August 2011, before the first London court case had begun, Mr Gaydamak travelled to Angola where senior officials convinced him to sign a settlement ending the venture with Mr Leviev. Those officials, Mr Gaydamak said, made it clear that he would be compensated by Mr Leviev and be granted a passport and diplomatic immunity by the Angolan government. However, he alleged, those promises transpired to be false.

In that first case heard in 2012, Mr Leviev denied there was any agreement made in 2001 – a denial the judge did not believe. But, crucially, Mr Justice Vos also found against Mr Gaydamak's claim that he had been duped into signing the settlement agreement under false pretences. The Angolan official had given no firm guarantees of compensation, the judge ruled, killing off Mr Gaydamak's claim.

Mr Gaydamak, however, last autumn returned to the High Court with another case, this time including the senior Angolans and claiming Mr Leviev had breached the trust in which he was held from the original 2001 deal. Mr Justice Mann, however, held that the settlement agreement still stood, and struck out Mr Gaydamak's claim.

Clive Zietman, the Stewarts Law partner acting for Mr Leviev said: "This second case was misconstrued, totally without foundation and has now been struck out."

Lawyers for Mr Gaydamak did not return calls. Mr Gaydamak could try to pursue his case further in the Supreme Court.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot