Retired Mossad agent appears in London court in African diamond battle between Israeli-Russian tycoons

 

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The Independent Online

A retired Mossad agent appeared before a London court today in the midst of a battle between two Israeli-Russian tycoons over African diamond profits.

Avinoam Dagan, who would only reveal his position in the famous Israeli intelligence service was “high ranking”, was giving evidence on behalf Arkady Gaydamak.

Mr Gaydamak, 60, who recently won an appeal against an arms dealing conviction in the French courts, is claiming that fellow businessman Lev Leviev owes him in the region of $1 billion after the two men went into a venture to sell Angolan diamonds. The deal had been agreed by the country's government in the nineties as it tried to wrest control of the gems from UNITA rebels during the bloody civil war.

The case centres around an document Mr Gaydamak insists they signed in December 2001, in which he agreed that Mr Leviev would hold his equal share from the Angolan Diamond Selling Corporation while he maintained a low profile because of the “politically motivated” French charges.

But Mr Leviev, 55, insists that Mr Gaydamak had “no more than a limited role” in the venture and the document at the meeting was simply an agreement that Mr Gaydamak would donate to a charity he had founded.

Yesterday Mr Dagan told the High Court that he had been a consultant to Mr Gaydamak on security issues relating to his diamond business as well as the supply of food to the Angolan army.

He gave evidence that he was in the next room when the two men signed the agreement and he had kept an unsigned version, which he produced upon hearing of Mr Gaydamak's legal battle.

During tense cross examination by Mr Leviev's barrister Justin Fenwick QC, Mr Dagan refused to shed light on his past in Israeli intelligence.

“I was a high ranking officer. I cannot elaborate more than that,” he said, to which the QC asked: “You were involved in espionage?”

“No comment,” said the witness.

The barrister continued: “You are accustomed to and trained in the art of resisting interrogation?”

Mr Dagan replied: “I do not comment about what I did in the service of my country.”

The case continues.