Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hiding Leviev

The Village of Bil'in in the West Bank in Occupied Palestine is suing two Canadian corporations in Quebec Superior Court for committing war crimes connected with the construction of illegal settlements. The interesting aspect is that the Canadian companies, Green Mount International Inc. and Green Park International Inc., are allegedly fronts, through an elaborate series of holding companies, nominees and trustees, for none other than our old friend Lev Leviev, the guy who sells blood diamonds and uses the proceeds to fund the building of illegal settlements:
"A Palestinian-rights group, Adalah-NY, now alleges the companies are controlled by Shaya Boymelgreen, a controversial real-estate developer in New York City.

As evidence, they cite Israeli media reports from 2005 and 2006 that identify Boymelgreen as Green Park's principal stakeholder."

"Boymelgreen's name does not appear in Bilin's $2-million lawsuit. Both Green Park and Green Mount list a Montreal woman as their sole director, president and secretary.

But Bilin's Canadian lawyer says he believes the woman - Annette Laroche - is only a figurehead.

'We believe (her) to be simply the secretary at the law firm that incorporated the company with really no knowledge or involvement,' said Mark Arnold.

'I have no evidence that she has done anything wrong. Nevertheless she is liable for the conduct of that company.'

Both companies have Byzantine ownership structures with ties that extend to the African diamond trade.

Quebec government records say Green Park and Green Mount are each controlled by Lexinter Management, which lists a commercial photo studio in Montreal as its address.

Lexinter in turn lists its majority shareholder as F.T.S. Worldwide Corp., a Panama-based company involved in the past with the diamond trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

F.T.S. Worldwide was formerly the majority shareholder of Emaxon Inc., which was granted an exclusive deal to market Congolese diamonds in 2003.

Emaxon's sole director, president and secretary is Karen McIntyre, who served the same functions for Green Mount until she was replaced by Laroche in 2007.

Efforts to reach McIntyre and Laroche were unsuccessful.

Repeated calls to Ronald Levy, the lawyer representing Laroche and the two companies in her name, were not returned.

The Montreal offices of Levy's law firm, De Grandpre Chait, also serve as Emaxon's head office, at least for government tax records.

Adalah-NY argues Boymelgreen used Green Park and Green Mount to sub-contract the construction of the settlements near Bilin to Danya Cebus, a subsidiary of Africa Israel Investments.

The conglomerate is headed by Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev, who partnered with Boymelgreen in a series of New York real-estate ventures between 2002-2007.

UNICEF, the UN children's fund, cut its ties with Leviev last month after it found 'at least a reasonable grounds for suspecting" that Danya Cebus was involved in settlement building, which is considered illegal by the UN.'