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August 30: Tough Times for the “World’s Richest Jew”

August 29, 2015

levAn announcement by Lev Leviev that his Africa Israel Investments company would be unable to meet its obligations on billions of dollars in debt caused his company’s share price on the Tel Aviv stock market to drop 25.5 percent on this date in 2009, and an additional 13.7 percent the next day. Leviev, a religiously devout and politically conservative billionaire, built his fortune from Angolan and Russian diamond mines, as well as real estate and chemicals. A major funder of the Lubavitcher khasidic movement and a major investor in West Bank settlements, he moved to London in 2007 and bought $4 billion of New York property, including the New York Times building on West 43 Street, only to find his properties depreciating by nearly 50 percent during the Great Recession of 2008. His attempts to profit on prison privatization were also rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2009. in 2013 he lost $136 million worth of jewels in a robbery at a resort in Cannes. He has also been the target of boycott activists because of his land-grab activity on the West Bank.

“By 2007, Leviev had spread Africa-Israel to fifteen countries with operations ranging from gas stations in the U.S. and a toll road in Israel to housing projects in Russia and shopping malls in Romania. Africa, as it is known in Israel, was at that point valued at $7 billion. In a 2007 IPO it held in London for its Russian activities, it raised $1.4 billion, the largest IPO ever by an Israeli company.... Leviev was now on top of the world. He was ranked by Forbes as the world’s 210th richest man with a personal net worth of $4.1 billion, and universally recognized as the world’s richest Jew.” —