Leviev wins $209M judgment in corporate split

Africa Israel chair has spent years battling with ex-diamond dealer partners

Lev Leviev (Credit: Getty Images)
Lev Leviev (Credit: Getty Images)

Africa Israel Investments chair Lev Leviev won a $209 million judgment in an ugly split with his former business partners.

The back-and-forth got so messy that it led to death threats and a smear campaign to the arbitrator initially assigned to the case. A Manhattan federal judge Tuesday ordered Leviev’s former business partners to cough up $142 million to his LGC USA Holdings on top of another $66 million that had already been forked over, the New York Post reported.

Leviev [TRDataCustom], a billionaire diamond mogul nicknamed the “king of diamonds,” has spent years in courts battling with his ex-partners from upstate New York, the Julius Klein Group.

The award may be record for the industry. The dispute between Leviev and his former partners initially went to arbitration, but turned ugly fast when evidence surfaced that the arbitrator had been convicted of tax fraud and was tied to a scheme to export diamonds from Belgium while reselling them on the black market, according to Tuesday’s tax ruling.

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The arbitrator also received death threats, according to Judge Jesse Furman.

“The Leviev Group will take all steps available, including seizing corporate and individual assets, to collect this judgment after the lengthy legal procedures now have resulted in this final ruling,” Leviev’s lawyer, Charles Michael, said.

Leviev’s real estate firm, Africa Israel, has global holdings and trades on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Last year, Leviev agreed to pay $2 million to the city and relinquish control of three condominium buildings to their respective condo boards as part of a settlement with the New York state Attorney General’s office over major construction defects at 15 Broad Street, 20 Pine Street and 85 Adams Street. [NYP]Rich Bockmann