Lev Leviev, the billionaire diamond merchant and chair of international real estate firm Africa Israel Investments, has been awarded more than $100 million in a corporate split from his former business partner, Julius Klein Group.
Leviev won the payout at a June proceeding in Israel. The “king of diamonds” has spent years in courts warring with his ex-partners from upstate New York. He accused the Julius Klein Group in 2013 of keeping him in the dark about three valuable diamond companies.
Lawyers for his former business partner tried to keep a Manhattan federal court case related to the award sealed, but judge Andrew Carter Jr. would only redact the amount of the award, which industry sources claim is “well north of $100 million,” the New York Post reported.
“This is not a million-dollar award for trading, for trading transactions,” said Julius Klein Group attorney Alan Levine, according to the Post. “This is an award that will attract the attention of the business public and will impair their ability to do business going forwards.”
The Julius Klein Group — run by Martin, Abraham, Moishe and Malka Klein — is contesting the award. They argue it was given by a corrupt arbitrator who was convicted of tax evasion during the proceeding.
Leviev is said to be one of the world’s biggest traders of diamonds. His company Africa Israel, has global real estate holdings and trades on the Tel Aviv stock exchange.
In January, Leviev agreed to pay a $2 million penalty to the city and to turn over control of three condominium buildings — at 15 Broad Street, 20 Pine Street in Manhattan, and 85 Adams Street in Brooklyn — to their respective condo boards as part of a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s office over major construction defects.
Leviev named his daughter Chagit Sofiev-Leviev as CEO of Africa Israel in 2013. [NYP] — Miriam Hall