Like Charley Brown, the unfortunately character in the “Peanuts” comic strip and hit song by The Coasters, billionaire Arkady Gaydamak is once again sparring with Israeli law enforcement officials. This most recent round of verbal and written attacks from Gaydamak stems from allegations that he is involved in a number of illegal activities, including money laundering which stems from a large sum of money which the financier deposited briefly in Bank Hapoalim ($50,000,000), and authorities had said originated from “questionable sources”.
What has made matters even more problematic is that Gaydamak recent placed letter ads in local papers to prove his innocence. These ads lashed out against several top law enforcement officials, including Police Investigations and Intelligence chief Yohanan Danino, State Prosecutor Ella Rubinek, and Justice Ministry employee Yitzhak Blum for severe acts of libel and using their positions for “illegal acts against a private citizen’s civil rights”.
Police and other legal spokespersons have responded harshly to Gaydamak’s remarks by saying that nothing he says or does will deter them form carrying out their investigations to determine Mr. Gaydamak’s possible criminal acts. This is not the first time that numerous allegations have been made regarding the billionaire’s business and financial activities; and Gaydamak for his part also placed large ads in the newspapers in his defense. One of the most notable was back in October, 2006 regarding the “Bank Hapoalim Affair”.
Since arriving in Israel a few years ago, Gaydamak has made considerable effort to “legitimize” himself with the Israeli public. His effort have included purchasing the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club and numerous business concerns; and giving assistance to persons in distress during both the July/August 2006 Lebanese war and from Palestinian rockets hitting Sderot and other southern Israel communities. Gaydak’s brief involvement in the Tiv Taam non-kosher food chain turned out to be one of his not so prudent investments, however, as adverse publicity on behalf of the TV Kolbotek consumer program against Tiv Taam, resulted in Gaydamak divesting himself of all of his holdings in that enterprise, the last of it in the aftermath of Kolbotek’s most recent revelations concerning poultry and other meat products left on the loading docks of cold storage plants for long periods without refrigeration. The “Tiv Taam Affair” has cost Gaydamak a considerable amount of money, as he wound up selling his shares for considerably less than the purchase price.
Gaydamak’s political ambitions, which include running for mayor of Jerusalem, have not been helped by these latest police investigations into his numerous business affairs. Though he keeps insisting that his civic rights are being violated, the police and legal officials being named in his ads have now said that Gaydamak’s remarks “border on criminal”. Earlier investigations against Gaydamak, particularly the money laundering one, wound up being dropped with the police saying that Gayda was not guilty of any criminal charges from this matter. If this is so, then why are they still “picking on him” as the old song goes?