The trial of tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak starts today in Paris on charges of illegal arms trafficking, fraud, money laundering, fraudulent receipt and tax evasion. The indictment also states that Gaydamak and his former partner Pierre Falcone gave perks to senior members of the French government to promote their business deals.
As far as is known, Gaydamak will not appear in court, although in the past he has said he would. Gaydamak claims that he is a victim of French political power struggles.
The charges allege that mainly from 1993 to 1995, Falcone and Gaydamak used various intermediaries and sold weapons and ammunition worth $790 million from Russia and Slovakia to Angola, during that country's civil war. They also allegedly established a branch of the Slovak arms company ZTS OSOS without the necessary permits.
Falcone, who severed his ties with Gaydamak several years ago after financial disagreements, told Haaretz he had not decided whether to appear for the trial.
Around 40 former senior French officials are to stand trial, among them former interior minister Jean-Christophe Mitterand - the son of former president Francois Mitterand - and General Jean-Charles Marchiani, a senior member of the French security services.
From the indictment, sources and documents in Israel, it appears that Gaydamak had connections with intelligence officials in various countries. One of the defendants in the current case, Jean-Bernard Curial, is quoted by the indictment as saying that Falcone told him the arms company had connections with the KGB or was owned by former KGB officers "who knew Gaydamak well, as a former KGB colonel."
GSC, a security consulting firm established by Gaydamak in partnership with former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, and senior Mossad officer Avi Dagan, operated in Israel until 2002.
Police sources told Haaretz that investigators for the Israel Police's international crimes unit had the impression that Gaydamak had connections with the defense establishment and that the former head of security in the Defense Ministry, Yehiel Horev, had tried to intervene in various money-laundering investigations by the unit into Gaydamak.
Horev confirmed that there had been contact with the police about Gaydamak, but denied any attempts to interfere in investigations.