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Wealthy jew questioned over international crime connections { February 9 2006 }

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Head of Russian Jewish Congress quizzed on arrival in Israel over money transfers

Thu., February 09, 2006 Shvat 11, 5766
By Yossi Melman

The president of the Russian Jewish Congress was interrogated yesterday at the Israel Police's International Crimes Unit. Billionaire businessman Vyacheslav Cantor was summoned for questioning upon his arrival in Israel on Tuesday night, and he was escorted by police yesterday to the unit's offices in Petah Tikva.

The report yesterday on the Haaretz Internet site generated numerous responses from around the world. The timing of Cantor's arrival in Israel and his interrogation by police coincided with the World Jewish Congress convention taking place in Jerusalem.

Cantor made bids in the past for appointments to both the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress. Avner Tavori, a spokesman for the WJC, said that Cantor was not affiliated with his organization.

When Cantor arrived at the Petah Tikva police, businessman Arcadi Gaydamak was also there, for further questioning as a suspect in money laundering offenses. However, police sources said that Cantor's interrogation was not connected to the investigation into Bank Hapoalim's Hayarkon Street branch in Tel Aviv. The sources refused to say in what connection Cantor was being interrogated, but Haaretz has learned that it has to do with what police term "international crime," which refers primarily to matters involving wealthy businessmen from Russia and their money transfers.

Cantor was evidently asked to provide information regarding the movement of monies by other Russian oligarchs.

Cantor is a businessman who specializes in international commerce, particularly metals and chemicals, and has been living in Switzerland for the past few years. He has Russian, Swiss and Israeli citizenship. He had a business dispute in the past with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly the owner of the oil and gas giant, Yukus, and the richest man in Russia, who was divested of his empire by the Putin regime and is now serving a long sentence in a Siberian prison. That dispute and information from Cantor enabled the Russian Presidential Security Service (PSB) to open the investigation that led to Khodorkovsky's conviction.

Cantor's lawyer, Amnon Zichroni, and his spokeswoman, Masha Dashkov, said last night that Cantor was "questioned" and was not interrogated by police. His deputy, Yevgeny Stanovsky, said that, "Cantor never planned to engage in business in Israel and therefore cannot be connected to money laundering."

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