A Tel Aviv court today threw out businessman Alfred Akirov's petition to place a NIS 20 million lien on assets held by

Jigami

and its chairman, David Rubner. She also cast doubt on the validity of most of Akirov's claims against Rubner, but not all.

Akirov filed his petition months ago, when suing Jigami then called Net2Wireless and Rubner, which he claimed had defrauded him of a $5 million investment.

Akirov and a company under his control, Alrov, sued for the return of NIS 21 million. The tycoon claimed Rubner had made false presentations that induced him to make the investment.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Ofra CzerniakSalomon today ruled that Akirov had failed to prove that Rubner and Jigami would not be in a position to pay if they lost the case.

She said that at this stage, it was a he said-she said case and reliability of the versions had not been proved yet.

Czerniak also said that at this stage, most of Akirov's claims regarding false presentations appear baseless. She said that for Rubner to present Net2Wireless to Akirov as a promising technology company in which he, Rubner, had faith does not attest to fraud.

The non-involvement of George Soros and Goldman Sachs?

She said that as of now, the only claim Akirov made that appears worthy of further debate is that Rubner told him George Soros and Goldman Sachs were among Net2Wireless's strategic investors, and that they were leading the due diligence process and negotiations over terms of investment. This turned out to be untrue, Czerniak pointed out.

The judge noted Rubner's version, which is that he told Akirov institiutional investors were involved and that Goldman Sachs was taking an interest in investment. He claims not to have told Akirov that they were carrying out due diligence. Rubner said he had only mentioned Goldman Sachs on an anecdotal basis.

At this stage, Czerniak said, she can't say which of the two sides Akirov or Rubner is playing the innocent.

Tough questions for Akirov

She had tough questions for Akirov, such as why he hadn't contacted Soros or Goldman Sachs to check whether they were investigating Net2Wireless or carrying out due diligence. Akirov had claimed time was too short. But Czerniak points out that for that very reason, given the high-risk nature of the investment, he should have checked out these matters.

At this stage, not even a preliminary ruling can be made about the reliability of the parties, Czerniak said. But she added that given the spirit of the times when Akirov made his investment, it seems that the "cow wanted to nurse as much as the calf wanted to suckle" flowery language meaning that both sides wanted it equally. It could go either way, the judge hinted.

Akirov's company Alrov commented that it respected the judge's decision but after consulting with its lawyers, it will appeal anyway. Alrov also commented that it retains its confidence in the justice of its case.