Wanted di­a­mond mag­nate must be ques­tioned in Is­rael, of­fi­cials in­sist

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER IN JERUSALEM

IS­RAELI PO­LICE are re­fus­ing to ne­go­ti­ate terms over how to ques­tion the di­a­mond mag­nate Lev Le­viev, who faces al­le­ga­tions of money laun­der­ing and smug­gling.

Dozens of em­ploy­ees in Mr Le­viev’s LLD con­glom­er­ate have been ques­tioned in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion — co­de­named “Black Di­a­mond” — un­der which sev­eral close as­so­ciates and fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing his son Zvu­lun, have been ar­rested and since re­leased un­der house ar­rest.

Po­lice sus­pect that, along­side the le­gal im­port of di­a­monds from Mr Le­viev’s fac­tory in Rus­sia, LLD em­ploy­ees smug­gled un­doc­u­mented di­a­monds worth around 300 mil­lion shekels (£62.7 mil­lion) into Is­rael over the past decade.

Di­a­monds, bank ac­counts and pri­vate prop­erty be­long­ing to Mr Le­viev and LLD have been con­fis­cated as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mr Le­viev has said he is will­ing to be ques­tioned in Rus­sia, where he is presently based, or to travel to Is­rael on con­di­tion he is then per­mit­ted once again to leave.

A po­lice spokesman said: “We do

not ne­go­ti­ate with suspects before ques­tion­ing.

“[He] will be ques­tioned when he ar­rives in Is­rael. We do not agree to any pre­lim­i­nary con­di­tions.”

But the in­ves­ti­ga­tion took a tragic turn last week when Mazal Hadadi, a 42 year-old book-keeper at LLD, fell to her death from the tenth floor of the Di­a­mond Ex­change build­ing in Ra­mat Gan.

Po­lice are treat­ing her death as a sui­cide, although some of rel­a­tives claimed she may have been mur­dered.

Sources in LLD have ac­cused the po­lice of ag­gres­sively ques­tion­ing and pres­sur­ing Ms Hadadi.

Mr Le­viev, who has homes in Is­rael and Rus­sia, em­i­grated to Is­rael as a teenager in 1971 and es­tab­lished one of the largest pri­vately-owned di­a­mond trad­ing com­pa­nies in the world.

He also built up an in­ter­na­tional real es­tate em­pire, Africa’s Is­rael In­vest­ments, which nearly went bank­rupt in 2008 global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

He had lived for much of the past decade in a man­sion in High­gate, north Lon­don, on the gated Comp­ton Av­enue close to Hamp­stead Heath.

But last year he re­lo­cated to Moscow and has rarely been seen in pub­lic since.

It is un­clear whether his de­par­ture from Lon­don was due to po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions or to the change in Bri­tain’s visa re­quire­ments of Rus­sian busi­ness-peo­ple — which also meant that Mr Le­viev’s friend and ally Ro­man Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Foot­ball Club, took Is­raeli cit­i­zen­ship in May and has not re­turned to Bri­tain since.

Both men are known to be mem­bers of the cir­cle of oli­garchs close to Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Mr Le­viev has for years been one of the main pa­trons of Chabad and has fi­nanced its Or Avner ed­u­ca­tion net­work across the for­mer Soviet Union.

We do not agree to any pre­lim­i­nary con­di­tions', po­lice said

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Un­til re­cently a High­gate res­i­dent, Lev Le­viev is sought by in­ves­ti­ga­tors

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