Middleman: Arcadi Gaydamak

Co-owner of Abalone Investments

The key player in the Angola–Russia debt transaction was born in 1952 in Moscow. At the age of 20, he emigrated to Israel, after which he relocated to France, where he initiated his first business. In 1993, Gaydamak, along with his partner, Pierre Falcone, helped to arrange a large arms deal that saw the Angolan government purchase $790 million in weaponry from Russia and France.
In 2009, French courts convicted Gaydamak for various crimes related to the deal – known as Angolagate – although some convictions were overturned and his six-year sentence was reduced by half on appeal in 2011. He has never served time in jail as he refused to travel back to France, opting instead to remain in Israel.