Company to drop Chabad reference following inquiry over stakeholder

Ron Kampeas

(JTA) — A company partly owned by a Ukrainian-Jewish businessman being sued said it will remove “World Chabad” from the name of an affiliated entity.

Attorneys for Alfa Bank, alleging in a lawsuit that Alexander Granovsky defaulted on a loan, wrote to Chabad headquarters in New York last month asking the movement to clarify whether it was affiliated with Granovsky or his businesses.

Lipa-Meir, the Israeli law firm representing Alfa Bank, named in its March 8 letter Israel Jossef Schneorson, an officer at BSD-Crown, a company in which Granovsky is the majority stakeholder, as claiming an affiliation to Chabad.

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A BSD-Crown filing last year with the London Stock Exchange named Granovsky, Schneorson and an entity called Stichting World Chabad as among its stakeholders. “Stichting” is a term in the Netherlands denoting a legal entity.

An official at Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in New York told JTA that neither Schneorson nor Granovsky are affiliated with Chabad.

A spokeswoman for BSD-Crown, an Israel-based company formerly known as Emblaze, confirmed to JTA in an email this week that Schneorson “has as a businessman no relationship to Chabad and that he has no claim to the Chabad name.” She also said that BSD-Crown will change Stichting World Chabad’s name “as soon as possible.”

BSD-Crown has a controlling stake in Willi-Food, a kosher food importer in Israel.

Granovsky and other businessmen have in recent years claimed affiliations with Chabad to bolster their bids to acquire companies.

“The bank has the utmost respect for the legitimate and noble work of Lubavitch Worldwide Headquarters,” Lipa-Meir wrote in its letter to Chabad headquarters. The lawyers sought clarification as to whether Granovsky’s activities “are indeed, as he appears to claim, being done with the understanding and support of Chabad.”

Alfa Bank claims it is owed $15 million by Granovsky, who has countered with claims of fraud against the bank, according to Globes, the Israeli business daily, .