Wanted diamond magnate must be questioned in Israel, officials insist
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
Until recently a Highgate resident, Lev Leviev is sought by investigators