Sam Vaknin, Mystery Man
These texts were published in a blog in April 2017 by a Washington DC pro-Russia “analyst” in whom I confided this information. He was introduced to me in Skopje, Macedonia by a mutual friend, a senior editor of various print media there. At the time, I was on assignment in Russia and this betrayal was a part of an intricate web of warnings sent in my direction.
My name is Patrick Martin Benoit (not real name). I am a private investigator in Geneva and Brussels and former journalist in Geneva. I met Vaknin in Geneva many years ago, in 1983.
At age 21 he was friends with the richest billionaires in the world: Shivdasani, Gaon, Taman, Raccah, Cornfeld. He had a private jet he allegedly bought from Adnan Khashoggi and later sold to Donald Trump (more about it in a later post). In Russia, in a public lecture recently, he boasted that the jet was "bigger than Trump’s". He went skiing in Gstad. He established a literary association in Geneva with someone like Peter Ustinov. I could not understand what was going on. Just 2 years before he was a very poor Israeli from a slum!
I started to be interested in Mr. Vaknin. I asked my people (now I have more than 20 workers) to begin to look into him, make a dossier.
Almost first thing they found was this leak from Wikileaks. It reminded me of what Brendan Howley wrote of Sam Vaknin in a review of his book he published in Blue Ear:
“Vaknin's considerable intellectual armory reminds me of that of the ex-MOSSAD people I met in Poland in the early 1990s, retired spooks now running trading houses: utterly realistic, Talmudically concise in their opinions, and damn relentless. “
Now my interest was roused. I made it my hobby to study this man. Over the last 18 months I and my team began to find amazing facts and impossible counterfacts in Vaknin’s official curriculum vitae. So many that I do not know where to start most efficiently. So many that I decided to establish a blog and publish my findings and discoveries.
Take for example the most simple question:
The District Court of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa issued an order banning Vaknin’s exit from Israel. If he tried to leave the country, he was to be arrested at the airport instantly. This was related to a lawsuit 1288/90 (Bank Mizrakhi against Vaknin et al.).
Yet, Vaknin comes and goes as he wishes from and to Israel. He is living in Skopje, Macedonia now but before that he lived in Prague and Moscow in very prestigious and expensive addresses (in Moscow in Patriki). How can he do that?
Recently, Vaknin posted a zip file with many Hebrew language articles about him from the 1980s. We are translating it. But already it is clear that he is telling the truth about his connections with the Israeli intelligence community, especially the Mossad, very senior people like Elkana Gali and Rafi Eitan. But he was only 23 then!
At the same time that he is working with the most senior people of the Mossad, he is good friends and business partners with Eli Ronen, restaurateur and top organized crime mob figure! And with Uri Geller, the famous psychic.
We were completely confused.
Maybe the first clue is Vaknin’s family from his mother’s side. Her nee is Pardo. Like the family name of the ex head of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo who is, like her, from the same city in Turkey, Istanbul.
Vaknin’s younger sister is Sima Gil-Vaknin, another senior military and intelligence figure (former IDF Brigadier General Chief Censor and now Director General, Ministry of Strategic Affairs.)
Another brother of Vaknin, Avinoam, is senior intelligence officer in the Israeli Air Force.
This is not a usual family. Not at all. And Sam Vaknin is hiding more than he is saying about his true life.
For example: what was Vaknin doing in senior position with the Moonies (Unification Church)? He was head of the Israeli affiliate of the prestigious Professors World Peace Academy when he was only 25! Then he worked as head of the Israel desk for the Washington Times and then Senior Business Correspondent in United Press International (UPI). All these were properties of the Reverend Moon.
Or consider this amazing photo. Vaknin, an Israeli in his early twenties, meeting secretly with top Arab politicians and intellectuals in the middle of the worst Intifada by the Palestinians against Israel.
Vaknin’s intellectual work is very controversial. He is well known for his studies of narcissism, but he actually contributed to physics, economics, computer science, philosophy, political analyses, published short fiction in Hebrew and English and also poetry.
We began to look at Vaknin like someone with 100 personalities, not one. There was more fog than light. Now he became from hobby to obsession and the more we discovered, the more this guy looked like a Hollywood movie waiting to happen.
Sam Vaknin claims to have done time in prison in 1995-6. We checked the records of the courts and the prison system in Israel. It is true. He was first put in Eyal, now a closed prison camp, mostly for white-collar criminals. There he worked in the library of the prison (the books were for the students at the warden school nearby). Nadav Nackan, the convicted hitman, was also working there with him.
Then, after he verbally attacked during his appeal process the all-powerful Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak and gave an interview on the radio against the Israeli court system, he was expelled from Eyal and put in a much worse and more dangerous prison in Ramla, among murderers, rapists, Arab terrorists, and armed robbers. He described this setting in one of his short stories, “Write Me a Letter”.
During this period that he was supposed to be in a maximum security facility, he was giving lectures in the Tel-Aviv University Law Faculty with Prof. Shlomo Giora Shoham. Even accoding to his own CV, he worked in “Namer Tikshoret”, publisher of “Namer shel Neyar” (a fax to subscribers about the advertising industry). We verified this with the owner at the time, Yuval.
How is this possible and why was he released after only 11 months out of a verdict of 36 months?
Again, during these 11 months supposedly in prison, he wrote his bestselling book, “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited” (430 dense pages in English in the first edition in 1999) as well as 5 other manuscripts, including his book of short stories, “Requesting My Loved One”, which won a prestigious prize from the Council of Culture and Art in 1997!
How can anyone write so many works in prison, with the terrible conditions in Ramla?
We found evidence that Vaknin was cooperating with Dov Raviv, the Arrow missile engineer who got bribes from a supplier while he was working in the Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and was in prison the same time as Vaknin. Vaknin got money from Raviv days after he left prison. What were these two working on? No one knows or no one wants to talk.
Was Sam Vaknin really in prison or was it a cover for some secret mission or job? My investigators become more and more convinced that Vaknin was sent to prison to build up some important part of his future story, biography.
By who? The Mossad?
Ex Mossad agents we talked to said that the Mossad do not use tactics like this. Some of them pointed the finger and us at a completely different angle and direction: a private, secret, global organization of ex senior intelligence officers. It is known only as “The Organization”.
As far as we could ascertain, the Organization was run via a now down website, International Analyst Network. Vaknin is listed there, together with all the most senior “who is who” of the espionage world. We also came across this mind blowing email correspondence with Clive Prince and Lynn Picknett, the authors of bestseller books about conspiracies.
We wanted to know with all urgency what is the truth behind this incredible story. So, we involved colleagues in the Balkans to begin the hunt for the Real Sam Vaknin: to find out everything about his assassinated (?) partner, Gideon Sandel, and about his shadow work in Serbia breaking the embargo imposed by the West on the Milosevic regime (together with then Industry Minister Dusko Matkovic and via the MKS conglomerate and its accounts in Cyprus and Lebanon), and, later, in Macedonia with Nikola Gruevski, the Prime Minister until a year ago.
Vaknin constantly appears in countries where there is a crisis. After he appears, there is always some big change in the politics of those countries.
In 1990, Sam Vaknin was arrested and interrogated several times by the new securities fraud squad of the Israeli police. He was suspected of (and, in 1995, convicted of) securities fraud in a strange affair involving the purchase of a state-owned bank, Agriculture Bank.
His brokerage house, Mikbats Tesuah, was closed and he paid millions to banks, the tax authorities, and individuals he owed money to, including some very dangerous crime personalities. He went to live with his new wife, Nomi, who was just out of the Israeli army, in Ramat-Gan, not far from the Diamond Exchange and the Elite chocolate factory (Lean st. 24).
Yet, in 1991, Vaknin was back. By 1994, he had enough money to buy big part of the state-owned IT company (Malmata”m) and a HVAC factory, Omega as well as temp agency employing 8000 people.
In 1991, together with an also mysterious Israeli businessman, Gideon Sandel, he had a meeting with representatives of a giant Yugoslav company, MKS (Metalurski Kombinat Smederovo). The meeting was very secret in an office in the building of the gigantic Israeli holding company, Klal.
No one knows what was discussed there, but months later Vaknin travelled to Serbia (without any problem even though he has been arrested!). There he met with Dusko Matkovic, then general manager of MKS and, later, Minister of Industry in the Milosevic regime.
In this trip, Vaknin met all the big economic players of Serbia and political figures like the mayor of Belgrade and, after that, Milosevic himself. It was agreed that Vaknin will help Serbia break the international sanctions that were then beginning to be imposed on it.
Over the next 4 years, Vaknin engineered fake transactions, created shell companies, and moved 4 billion (!) USD from Serbia to many accounts in banks in Israel, Cyprus, and Lebanon. This money was used by Milosevic to buy fuel, weapons, raw materials, and finished industrial products and to pay to his loyalists. Without this money, the regime would have collapsed.
Vaknin operated in Novi Sad, from the offices of Sand-Trade, a trading company owned by an ex Israeli parachutist, Gideon Sandel. Sandel fell from a mountain in Macedonia and died in 2012 in very suspicious circumstances.
In 1995 Vaknin returned to Israel to be in prison! After 11 months, he was released on good behavior (!) and moved immediately to live in Macedonia, again working with Gideon Sandel and with Tose Kocevski, a Macedonian-Russian businessman, who owned VessoLink and Pikon, two paging companies.
For 2 years (1998-9) Vaknin lived with his girlfriend (later, wife) LidijaRangelovska, in Prague and in Moscow in the most prestigious area: Patriki. He was in Moscow during the economic crisis of 1998 that almost destroyed Russia’s economy. Ostensibly, he worked as advisor to a foreign-owned communication company, Vessolink. While there, he collaborated with major financial houses (most of them Western owned), banks, and prominent figures which later featured - and still feature - in the highest echelons various Putin administrations and as eminences grise.
But collaborated doing what? No one has a clear answer.
He and his wife were kidnapped for ransom once by rogue KGB agents, when they got separated from his bodyguards. That is all we were able to find out. Two years of activity there and not a trace left behind. All amidst a mega bond crisis, carefully orchestrated by mysterious forces.
Vaknin also wrote a few articles for Pravda, Izvestiya and other papers explaining why the crisis was good for Russia. He is back in Russia now. Interesting times ahead?
While in Macedonia 1996-8, Vaknin acted publicly against the socialist government. He started as an advisor to the Privatization Agency and the Stock Exchange of Macedonia but then became a shadow consultant to the rightwing party, the VMRO-DPMNE.
Vaknin selected a young, junior banker, Nikola Gruevski, and published with him in the print media a long series of dialogs about economic issues. These were later made into a book that Gruevski was giving copies of to his guests when he became Minister of Finance.
The dialogs with Vaknin made Gruevski very famous. In 1998, the VMRO-DPMNE won the elections. Gruevski became Minister without Portfolio and then Minister of Trade. Vaknin returned from Prague to Macedonia to become economic advisor to the government. He convinced Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski to appoint Gruevski as Minister of Finance.
Vaknin told people that he will make Gruevski into Macedonia’s Prime Minister. Everyone laughed. Until in 2006 this exactly happened. Many people in Macedonia consider Vaknin as the brain and éminence grise behind Gruevski’s coming to power.
Vaknin’s military service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is another enigma. His military dossier shows that in 1979 he served as a private first class in Golani, an infantry unit. He was a witness for the prosecution in a war crimes trial after he documented atrocities committed by his Golani superiors and soldiers in the West Bank town of Halhul.
But then he went to study computer programming and to be a parachuted medic. After that, he became a kitchen hand (!) in Bik’at Ha’yareakh (“Moon Valley”), Israel’s remotest air base not far from Eilat, the Red Sea resort. Three months among pots and pans and he is in the Air Force in Sde Dov (AFB 15) in the center of Tel-Aviv. There, he teaches physics and mathematics to air force pilots and mechanics. He also manages the Air Force library in the base.
Yet, our research discovered that Vaknin was secretly working with all the intelligence arms of the IDF. He was nominally under the command of Brigadier General Zusia Kniager (“Zizi”). He was involved in two projects: “mind reading” (studying how to read and interpret brain electricity, possibly for pilot helmets) and predicting geopolitical and military events using computer models and simulations based on mathematics.
And he was starting to become very famous in the media: television, newspapers. For one whole decade, Vaknin was fully covered by all the media in Israel just for being a “genius” and with no real achievements (except his IQ and academic career which will be discussed in future).
And, contrary to all army regulations, he was allowed to travel outside Israel freely to ... gamble in casinos! This is really getting very strange, even surrealistic because these trips were with known top-level mafia figures in Israel. More about these mysterious gambling trips in one of our next exposes.
All his life Vaknin has one official biography and one true resume, a visible, public side and a dark, hidden part. It is like he is not one person but many, with multiple personalities.
Consider his involvement in Africa.
First time Vaknin visited this continent in 1983. He was already a senior member of the business empire of the Jewish Sudanese multi-billionaire, Nessim Gaon. Gaon sent him to Nigeria to start the population census project – the biggest of its kind in the world. Vaknin was supposed to design the specifications of the census: hardware, software mainly.
Later, he travelled to Nigeria with the project manager, Mayer Landau, but the first few times he was on his own or with Gaon. He worked closely with the General Manager of the Ministry of Interior of Nigeria and with a computer scientist, Abimbola Salako. Corruption must have been a big part of what he did. Nothing happens in Nigeria without it.
Then, after an affair when Vaknin was arrested in Geneva for stealing secret documents of Gaon and leaking them to the Swiss press (he didn’t, the judge cleared him) – he went to Paris (to manage Gaon’s office there!) and then to Israel. He made a trade company with the top names and idols of the Israeli secret services and military. For example: one of his partners was Mordehai (“Motti”) Hod, the legendary commander of the Israeli Air Force in the Six Days War.
With a few of these partners, he moved to London where he leased a house with five floors not far from Marble Arch (34 Connaught Square, where Tony Blair resides today). He moved there with his new girlfriend, Sigal Bareket, a used bookstore owner from Tel-Aviv. It is impossible to read the list of his partners without being shocked. He was only 24! Here they are:
Elkana Gali (Mossad, Israel Aircraft Industries – IAI); Al Schwimmer (IAI); Marcus Katz (one of the world’s biggest weapons dealer); Ya’akov Nimrodi (one of the richest men in Israel, ex-intelligence); Ephraim Illin (owner of car factory, art collector); Motti Hod: Gershon (“Gigi”) Peres, brother of Shimon Peres, most important politician of Israel, was also involved as was Alexander Haig, a senior American military leader and politician.
Amazingly, these were exactly the same group of people who were responsible for the Iran-Contra affair in the same years that Vaknin was with them all in London: 1985-7. Could this be a coincidence? Hard to believe so! The Iran-Contra affair affair almost destroyed Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States and his administration!
From London, Vaknin started to operate in Sierra Leone. He cooperated with Shel Silverstein and Jack Peters, two American businessmen that some say were actually senior CIA figures. They made contact with the owner of a bus service (“Liat”) and diamond concessions in Sierra Leone and ex advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister, Golda Meir. His name was Shabtai Kalmanovich.
The idea was to bribe the President of Sierra Leone, General Momoh, to give him a private jet and to get from him an island where they could bury nuclear and chemical waste materials from Germany and other west Europe countries. Vaknin met Momoh to discuss the details of the deal and spent a lot of time with Kalmanovich in Africa and in Germany.
The deal collapsed when Kalmanovich was arrested and in a way kidnapped by the Mossad (in collaboration with British law authorities). He ended up in Israeli prison for being a senior KGB agent. Later, he returned to Russia and was assassinated there in his car.
All this time, Vaknin presented himself as a “financial engineer”, owner of IPE, an Isle of Man company set up by Bernard Garbacz, an accountant at Landau-Morley LLP. Ten years later, Garbacz arranged the financing needed for Vaknin to buy the IT unit of the Israeli government in a corrupt privatization tender.
In 1987, Vaknin returned to Israel. He established a big brokerage house, “Mikbats Tesuah”. Again, he was operating in the light, but living in the shadows.