Lev Leviev’s Empire: Diamonds and Real Estate Across the World

Denis Katsyv’s companies are closely connected to the business empire of Lev Avnerovich Leviev, the billionaire Israeli-Russian businessman whose empire stretches across the world.

According to company records, Katsyv’s company, Prevezon Holdings Limited Cyprus, owns 30 percent of four companies that are part of Leviev’s Africa Israel group of companies. Africa Israel Ltd. The Prevezon-AFI connections can be seen in property records from New York where the companies are in business together.

Leviev was born in Uzbekistan in 1971, but at 15 he emigrated with his parents to Israel. After serving in the army he became an apprentice at a small diamond factory. He used the experience well. At 45, after breaking the traditional monopoly held by De Beers, Leviev became the owner of one of the biggest companies in the world producing grindstones.

Before the global crisis hit, Forbes estimated Leviev was worth an estimated US$4.1 billion and was one of the richest Israelis. Additionally, he invests internationally in residential real estate, shopping malls, energy, fashion, telecommunication and media valued at US$8 billion USD in 2007. He owns the most expensive house in Great Britain and has done business with African governments in countries wracked by civil war.

But the recession has affected Leviev. Currently, the debt of Africa-Israel Investments is estimated at over US$2 billion.

Leviev said that his biggest mistake was investing in the United States, according to Bloomberg. He was one of the few Israelis who invested in New York real estate during the 2007 housing boom. The company purchased buildings worth US$725 million.

Arkady Gaydamak, a controversial Israeli-Russian businessman who has faced accusations of arms trafficking in Angola and money laundering in Israel, was Leviev’s business associate in the Angolan diamond trade for years. According to court records, starting in 2001 Leviev “fronted” for Gaydamak in the Angolan diamond business, because Gaydamak has a tarnished reputation including an international arrest warrant. In 2012, Gaydamak sued Leviev for violating a 2001 business contract regarding diamond assets that Leviev asserts he never officially signed.

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