David Sassoon, Conman who met with Pompeo in Athens and tried to buy a bank - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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eKathimerini Revelations wrote:The conman who attempted to buy a bank
How did David Sassoon succeed in accumulating funds, and what were the ambitious plans he advertised to entice his interlocutors?

Marianna Kakaounaki
30.10.2023 • 12:44

Last Sunday, Kathimerini revealed that the individual posing as a Jewish-American multibillionaire named David Sassoon is not who he claims to be. He has been convicted of criminal offenses abroad and, according to official documents, his real name is Khalid El Sheriff and he is a Sudanese national.

Sassoon arrived in Greece in August 2020, driving an old car and, as per testimonies, without proper travel documents. He had just been released from prison and was penniless. So how did he manage to organize a conference at a cost of half a million euros and with former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo as the keynote speaker within just three years? Kathimerini conducted an investigation to shed light on David Sassoon’s activities in Greece.

The first ‘bite’

Despite making numerous contacts in Greece during his first six months in the country, he struggled to raise funds, and the millions from the alleged trust fund never made it to the company’s bank accounts. In January 2021, he announced his decision to withdraw his investments from Greece and initiated negotiations in South Africa. He reached an agreement with Bluedrop, in which he committed to invest $40 million in energy projects. Sassoon requested – and they sent him – $48,000 for “technical studies” required to kick-start the project.

Meanwhile, he assembled a fresh team of employees from the United States and Israel, and sent an invitation for them to stay at the Cape Sounio hotel, situated to the southeast of Athens. “We are looking forward to getting to know everyone personally and building friendships,” he wrote to them. He made an advance payment to the hotel and sought facilitation from an Israeli travel agency: “He would provide us with a credit card, but the payment would be made after the event. He came highly recommended, and regrettably, we accepted this,” says Batia Idan, who handled the reservations. Among the 25 guests were new employees, their families, and what he referred to as “VIPs”: a Greek-American former official of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, a retired Israeli brigadier general, and a prominent rabbi. Three attendees who spoke to Kathimerini explained that even those who had doubts about the unknown billionaire were all impressed by his hospitality. They traveled first class, stayed in suites, enjoyed beachside receptions, and smoked cigars in Sassoon’s presidential suite during the evenings. “You are looking to the left, to your right and everybody you are looking at is reputable, very good people.”

After the trip concluded, the Greek-American “VIP” was convinced to join the board of the Sassoon Group. He approached a law firm in the upmarket Kolonaki neighborhood and sought legal assistance in obtaining Greek citizenship for Sassoon. The lawyer met with him twice and learned of Sassoon’s ambitions, including purchasing the port of Iraklio on Crete to prevent it from falling into Chinese hands. He said he wanted high-level political and business connections and wanted them fast. Alarmed by these intentions, the lawyer decided to inform the authorities. In correspondence that has since been seen by Kathimerini, he stated, “If he’s not involved in espionage, it’s a significant scam.” Coincidentally, a few weeks later, a former partner of Sassoon reported him, leading Greek authorities to uncover evidence of his activities in England. However, since there were no specific fraud charges in Greece, they informed him that criminal charges could not be substantiated.

Meanwhile, the travel agency initiated legal action against Sassoon’s wife because, despite continuous assurances and alleged deposits, they had not received the $70,000 owed to them. The hotel bill remained unpaid as well. Sassoon turned to his associates for financial assistance, but they declined. Nonetheless, one of them received a frantic phone call from him, purportedly from a police station. “He called me and told me I had to pay so they would not arrest him,” she says. She deposited €15,000 into the hotel’s account (which still bears the pending debt). The travel agency was eventually paid months later by the “VIP” rabbi.

He wanted to purchase the port of Iraklio so it would not fall into Chinese hands. ‘If he’s not involved in espionage, it’s a significant scam,’ a lawyer said

The new partners came to realize that there were significant gaps in their dealings. Even the South African investment failed to progress. Sassoon persistently demanded more money, causing Bluedrop to withdraw its involvement. Nearly the entire team resigned simultaneously. Despite these setbacks, Sassoon remained undeterred and set his sights on a new $30 million investment, a hotel in Cameroon. His new partner there sent him at least three transfers totaling $600,000.

However, these financial transactions were not the only money Sassoon received during his three years in Greece. Israeli entrepreneur Itzik Dahan estimates that just from his various contacts, Sassoon managed to acquire nearly $1 million.

The two men first crossed paths in December 2021. Their initial encounter revolved around discussions about potential investments, accompanied by a coffee outing in Sassoon’s old clunker. When the two stopped at a gas station, he handed over a 50-euro bill and requested 20 euros’ worth of gasoline. “Clearly, something didn’t match the typical profile of a billionaire, but he seemed to have an explanation for everything. For instance, he had a sentimental attachment to the car since it was in it that they once traveled to Greece. I thought he might be an eccentric wealthy individual. He came across as professional during our meetings,” Dahan explains.

Sassoon proceeded to inform Dahan that he had opened a US account, designating Dahan as the beneficiary, and he promised to deposit 73.5 million dollars in it for their joint investments. Concurrently, they discussed the remarkably favorable terms he would be offering to those investing in bonds from his private bank. Inspired by these discussions, Dahan decided to invest $100,000 in the venture, and many of his friends and acquaintances followed suit.

In the summer of 2022, Dahan introduced him to Doron Zentner, the head of Taglit in Europe, a Jewish educational organization seeking sponsors in Greece. Zentner recollects, “Without a second thought, Sassoon told me that he would cover all the expenses for a grand fundraising event.” When Zentner inquired within the Jewish community about his new acquaintance, no one seemed to know him. Still, Sassoon had already initiated enthusiastic discussions about the gala, which discouraged Zentner from conducting a more thorough investigation.

Meanwhile, Sassoon’s associates contacted Attica Bank to request a meeting. On August 2, Konstantinos Makedos, the bank’s chairman, received him in his office. During the meeting, he learned about Sassoon’s purported dynastic heritage and his ambition to acquire the bank. Subsequent meetings ensued, and plans for a meal at the Bank of Greece. Yet, upon receiving the official proposal, they exercised caution. “It sounds too good to be true,” Greek central bank chief Yannis Stournaras commented on reading the proposal. Both bankers concurred that further investigation was warranted before proceeding.

Makedos delegated this task to a law firm, and their investigation revealed that the company based in the United States had invalid details, including the tax identification number, SEC file number, and even the address. Their report raised concerns and concluded: “The results of our search raises serious doubts as to the legitimacy of Sassoon. We strongly recommend performing further due diligence on this entity.” Upon receiving legal counsel, the Bank of Greece was notified. Subsequently, this information reached Maximos Mansion, the Greek prime minister’s official residence in Athens, as well as the Cooperative Bank of Central Macedonia, with which Sassoon was concurrently engaged in negotiations.

The telephone call

In the meantime, Dahan paid another visit to Sassoon and observed that he was now in a Porsche, complete with chauffeur and security. This “upgrade” provided some reassurance. After all, Sassoon had claimed he’d made a $73.5 million deposit, even providing a receipt. However, at an unexpected moment, Dahan noticed that the account number was “123456789.” The bank verified his suspicion: The receipt was fraudulent. He contacted Sassoon and recorded their conversation. “Whatever I’m gonna say, it’s not going to matter anyway… I’ve been working my ass off 27/4 to get things done… I’m not cheating anyone, it’s all real,” Sassoon insisted, despite being exposed. To which Dahan replied: “Tell me what to do, so that my people are not hurt. I want all their money to come back.”

Dahan refrained from reporting him to the authorities, hoping the money would be returned (as of today, he has only received $6,000). However, he did warn Zentner, who was preparing for a Taglit event in Athens at that time. “Everything is set; Sassoon has covered all the expenses. I can’t cancel,” Zentner told him. Indeed, on November 7, Sassoon, as the newly appointed chairman of Taglit in Greece, hosted former Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, Israeli Ambassador to Greece Noam Katz, and numerous other dignitaries. Katerina Monogiou, a conservative MP, accepted an award on behalf of the prime minister (she says it was without the knowledge of Maximos Mansion). This was followed by a reception featuring live music at the Grand Hyatt Athens (part of whose payment remains outstanding, and the hotel has initiated legal action against the group). Subsequently, Zentner received further warnings about Sassoon’s “troubling past.” Meanwhile, Taglit decided to end their cooperation, notifying him of the decision without issuing any official statement.

On November 18, 2022, a new company was founded under the name “Joseph Sassoοn Hellas,” ostensibly intended to manage the trust’s millions. Based on the island of Rhodes, it had an initial capital of 25,000 euros, with the founders being a Greek lawyer and his brother, who were associates of Sassoοn. Strikingly, Sassoοn himself was absent from the company’s incorporation documents.

The man who called himself David Sassoon recounted incredible stories from his alleged years in the CIA, the special forces, and the Sassoon dynasty.

The lost cousin and the ‘borrowed’ grandmother

At a certain point, Sassoοn discovered the existence of someone named Michael Cattaui living in Greece, and he fervently sought to find him (claiming that his mother was Josephine Cattaui from the renowned dynasty). The real Cattaui heard the claim of them sharing the same great-grandfather and, given his knowledge of his genealogy, confidently informed him that “he is not related in any way, shape or form to our family,” he tells Kathimerini. “He even said I was entitled to some of the funds and the bank he was creating, asking me to join the board of directors. I obviously refused to even meet him,” he says.

In Athens, Sassoοn successfully arranged countless professional and social engagements. He regaled those he associated with with incredible stories of his alleged involvement with the CIA, his canine companion from the special forces (despite finding it in Athens), and the movie “Black Hawk Down,” supposedly inspired by his mission in Somalia. Official American documents available to Kathimerini indicate that he never served in the US Army. In 1992, he entered the United States with a Sudanese passport under the name “Khalid El Sheriff.” From 2005 to 2013, he served multiple sentences in American prisons for financial fraud.

Unaware of his checkered past, some people were genuinely convinced. Someone even nominated him for membership at the Athenian Club. A shipowner with a distinguished name but limited maritime activity pledged an investment of $300,000 (Kathimerini reached out to him, but he declined to provide a comment).

In the spring, he made the decision to proceed with the conference. He contracted event management and communication firms, secured Pompeo’s participation through an agent (for a fee of $225,000), and gave interviews. However, as of last week, many of the individuals who had worked to organize the conference had yet to receive their payments.

Nonetheless, the conference did indeed occur. On the evening prior to the event, Sassoοn hosted a dinner in an opulent, fully furnished apartment located in the Anaktora neighborhood near the Presidential Palace, which he had recently rented for this specific purpose.

His guests included Pompeo, the Israeli ambassador, and the US ambassador, whom he met that evening. They discussed everything he intended to do for Greece with their support.

After all, he emphasized that it was the land where his ancestors had originated, gesturing toward a portrait displayed in the dining room, that of a young woman.

“She’s my grandmother, born in Thessaloniki,” he asserted. However, the painting had been in the possession of the Greek homeowner for numerous years.

A week earlier Kathimerini reporters had started unravelling the plot:

ekathimerini wrote:The five-act con of ‘David Sassoon’

Kathimerini chronicles the activities of the bogus investor with multiple identities and many criminal convictions

‘I am a child of Greece, Israel and the United States,’ ‘David Sassoon’ told the American Mediterranean Investment Forum, the first-ever conference he organized in Greece. In older statements he had claimed that his grandparents were members of the Sassoon dynasty and had been born in Thessaloniki, which is one of the reasons why he wanted to invest millions in the country. Kathimerini’s investigation has revealed that none of his claims are true.

Marianna Kakaounaki
23.10.2023 • 13:18

Posing as a multimillionaire, David Sassoon managed to host lavish receptions for ambassadors in Athens while having been repeatedly imprisoned in the United States and the United Kingdom for multiple criminal offenses.

Kathimerini presents his story, which reads like a screenplay for a dramatic thriller.

Act 1
At the Lighthouse among officials

On Wednesday, September 27, the entire “Joseph Sassoon Group” had an early start. The day for which they had worked for months had arrived. The head of the group, 50-year-old American-Jewish David Sassoon, arrived at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on Athens’ southern coast in a Porsche. He went up to the Lighthouse, the SNFCC’s highest point, to make sure that everything was in place, just as he wanted it to be, for the American Mediterranean Investment Forum, his first-ever conference in Greece. While welcoming businessmen, politicians and diplomats into the conference hall with a panoramic view from the Acropolis to the Saronic Gulf, he was relaxed and smiling as if he were right at home.

Just before the forum started, Sassoon sat in the front row. Beside him sat the former US secretary of state and ex-director of the CIA Mike Pompeo, a keynote speaker and one of his guests. The night before, he had hosted a reception in Pompeo’s honor at his newly rented 400-square-meter luxury apartment on Rigilis Street, near the Presidential Mansion and the prime minister’s official residence. The conference began with a video about the history of his family, cast as one of the oldest and most powerful families in Israel, “the Rothschilds of the East,” and about the billion-dollar trust he managed and intended to invest in Greece. Pompeo and Sassoon took the floor. The event continued with speeches and panels of businessmen and diplomats. At the end of the conference, Sassoon took to the stage again: “We are growing, we are going global, if you want a company that is going to give you the biggest return on your investment, give me a call,” he told the participants.

But who, really, is David Sassoon? Kathimerini’s months-long investigation unravels his story, which, while similar to a movie script, is entirely true. Through dozens of interviews, in Greece, Israel, the UK, Africa and the US, official documents and electronic correspondence that Kathimerini has at its disposal, we present the journey of a man who for the past 10 years has been pretending – according to the available evidence – to be someone he is not, having succeeded to mislead employees, investors, businessmen, journalists, politicians and even, as it turned out, the powerful top US and Israeli diplomats in Greece, ambassadors George Tsunis and Noam Katz, who attended and spoke at the conference.

Act 2
Send a loan until the billions come

He arrived in Greece in August 2020 with his wife Sharon Levy. They rented an apartment in the southern Voula district and started making contacts for their business and investment plans. They already had a small team of associates, including John Kiriakou, the Greek-American former CIA agent. They approached him in early July with a proposal. “I would be working from Washington, but I would come to Greece regularly. With an annual salary of $600,000, a bonus and a company car, we would make multi-million-dollar investments. My first reaction was ‘Where do I sign?’ It was my dream job,” Kiriakou tells Kathimerini.

Kiriakou put Sassoon in touch with Chesa Keane, a graphic and web designer. She was hired and asked to create five websites for the group’s different activities. But first of all, they wanted her to design their logo. “I want to bring the Jewish concept and tradition into the future, into something that is more fierce,” Sassoon told her. Keane designed a lion emerging from the flames of a menorah. He loved it. Although the websites have been taken down, the logo remains.

Meanwhile, Kiriakou was looking for an office space in Washington, DC. The real estate brokers gave him a tour of the second floor of the Willard, an iconic building next to the White House. Sassoon told them to close the deal fast and not lose this prime piece of estate, so they instructed the accountants to deposit a downpayment ($68,610.00) and the first month’s rent ($22,870.00). At that time, the entire team also met via e-mail with Alexander T., the trust’s attorney, based in Switzerland. He told them that it was only a matter of days before the first 100 million was deposited into the group’s accounts.

Sassoon and Kiriakou – who was traveling back and forth to Greece – made appointments with the American embassy and meetings with politicians and executives of Enterprise Greece. They spoke about their intention to build hotels, a private bank and 3D printers, to make public investments (in the port of Iraklio in Crete, and much later in Attica Bank) and much more. The aspiring investor said he wanted to help Greece with its public debt. Also, he also wanted to hold a big conference featuring Tom Hanks and General Petraeus as guests. “It will give us legitimacy. The more you are visible, the more you are believable and the more you are trustworthy,” he wrote to his colleagues.

Kiriakou returned to Washington and set up an appointment with the Greek Embassy, asking for its support. The Greek diplomats, however, did some research and found a series of articles in the Jewish Chronicle. According to the English newspaper, Sassoon had done time in prison in the UK and the US and had not actually served in the US Army, as he claimed. “You need to be careful,” they told the Greek government.

“He told me about these articles, claiming they were all lies,” recalls Chesa Keane. Sassoon asked her to make them “disappear” from the internet. They set up a series of interviews that would appear in search engines when looking up on him, instead of the “bad articles of the obsessive journalist” that had often stood in the way of his plans. “I wish I could find a hacker to take them down,” he wrote to her in an email on September 24, 2020.

Meanwhile, the landlords of the Willard office never received any payment and terminated the lease. Even the group’s salaries were delayed. The Swiss lawyer, Alexander T., kept making excuses – bank audits, Covid, bureaucracy, issues with the IRS. Sassoon himself was beginning to feel the pressure. “I owe two months rent, my tooth is hurting and I can’t even go to the dentist,” he wrote to Keane. She offered to lend him a sum of money, but Sassoon refused. “I know you have spent money already and it is not fair to put this burden on you,” he wrote to her. Three days later, however, he changed his mind: “If you are really able and willing to help, I think I am going to have to take up on your offer for help.” That same day, on October 24, 2020, she transferred $3,000 to him. A few weeks later, he asked for help again and she mailed him a package. In it, she placed chocolates and a credit card issued by her company in his name. The bank statements she maintains in her files show transactions (over $4,000) at pizzerias, supermarkets and shops in Glyfada. “In my heart, I obviously knew something was wrong, but I felt the risk was less than the potential reward,” Keane explains. Sassoon had promised her shares and had promoted her to director, with an annual salary of $300,000 – which, of course, she never received.

The day she realized everything was a lie was on December 20, 2020. All members of the group were instructed by Sassoon to send e-mails exclusively through a supposedly secure server. When Keane didn’t get the reply she was expecting from Alexander T., she decided to email him directly, to the address she found on the Geneva law firm’s website. He answered that he had no idea what she was talking about. “I do not act for the ‘Sassoon Family Continuation Trust.’ I hope this clarifies,” he wrote to her. Keane, in shock, forwarded the email to the group. Sassoon was furious and fired her. “Alexander had no obligation to acknowledge your emails. Specific protocols were provided by him for intramural communications. We have been compromised – you have caused incalculable damage,” a close colleague of Sassoon wrote to her.

Over the next few weeks, Sassoon contacted a number of Greek partners in potential investments and informed them that he finally wouldn’t “explore investment opportunities in Greece.” He blamed it on “overbearing bureaucracy and confusing laws that make no sense.” To others, he claimed to have been offended by earlier anti-Semitic comments by Adonis Georgiadis. He remained in his Voula apartment but turned to South Africa for investment. Articles there mention an investment of millions in a company called Bluedrop, but Kathimerini has confirmed with its CEO, Kenneth Maduna, that not only did he never proceed but posing as an investor he actually asked them for money. At that time, the “obsessive” English journalist of the Jewish Chronicle continued her investigation of his activities in Africa and Greece. In September 2021, Sassoon filed a lawsuit against her in the US. The lawyer who filed the suit (a partner in the Sassoon Group), Bruce Fein, explains to Kathimerini that he withdrew it as soon as he realized that his client was “lying about everything.” The US judge irrevocably closed the case.

He arrived in Greece in August 2020 with his wife. They rented an apartment in the Voula district and started making contacts for their business and investment plans. They already had a small team of associates, including John Kiriakou, the Greek-American former CIA agent

Act 3
The clueless banker

The Jewish Chronicle reporter, Jenni Frazer, first met Sassoon in August 2016. His name and his plans to start a bank were buzzing in the London Jewish community so she wanted to interview him. Their first meeting took place in his luxurious detached house in the upmarket neighborhood of St Johns Wood. There, Frazer heard an unlikely tale of spies, secret missions and billions of dollars. She left, determined to find out if there was any truth in it.

Meanwhile, Sassoon kept making contacts. One of them was with a small but powerful Swiss bank. The bankers met him in London, where he told them about his fortune of billions of dollars and rare works of art. As they left, the two experienced bankers agreed that something “doesn’t add up.” The Sassoon dynasty was real, but he was unknown. “Someone claiming to be so wealthy would not remain anonymous,” they later testified to the British authorities. Nevertheless, they asked him to produce a number of documents, which he said he would. A few days later, the Swiss banker received a phone call from Sassoon. He was in the office of a British lawyer to whom he wanted to introduce his banker. The Swiss would later seek out the lawyer to clarify that Sassoon was not yet their client. “But, I have your bank’s documents here,” replied the lawyer and forwarded them to him. The banker was shocked to see that they bore his signature, obviously forged, and contained evidence of alleged deposits of $47 billion.

Meanwhile, a red flag was raised at the real estate agency through which Sassoon and his then-girlfriend, Sharon Levy, had rented the luxury London flat. Levy’s check for £128,000 covering the first month’s rent, bounced. When informed, he was calm and polite, reassuring. Over the following weeks, they received dozens of emails, supposedly from his associates in the US, with explanations about the money. “All designed to delay their inevitable eviction,” the real estate agents later told the authorities (Kathimerini has a copy of the eviction notice, dated October 18, 2016).

Sharon Levy filed a complaint with the police about the check he had issued without her knowledge. Those same days, someone – most likely herself – logged into his LinkedIn profile and wrote where his name would normally be: “Dickhead NOT a Sassoon” and below that “Chief liar at Cattaui-Sassoon Group” (the name of the group at the time).

Two weeks later, Levy withdrew the complaint and LinkedIn reverted to its previous form. The couple moved to Leeds. They stayed in the camper van of a Jewish family and later in a hotel where they also left debts. On February 13, 2018, the police raided the apartment where they were temporarily staying. They arrested him for “conspiracy to defraud” and found two fake IDs with his photograph – one of them Greek. According to the official documents filed in court that Kathimerini has obtained, “Sassoon” is not his real name. “His true identity is Khalid El Sheriff, a Sudanese national. On November 16, 2013 he arrived at London Heathrow on a flight from Mexico.”

Act 4
From Fort Dix FCI to UK prison

On the flight from Mexico in 2013, Sassoon was traveling with 41-year-old Amanda (she does not wish to have her surname disclosed). They had met a year earlier through a prisoner support organization and began corresponding. He was in prison in the US, she was at home in Nottingham, UK. She was told by the organization that his name was El Sheriff but he confided that his name was Sassoon and that he was in prison on an undercover counter-terrorism operation. In October 2012, she visited him at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution and was fascinated by this kind man who promised her a fairy-tale life as soon as he inherited his grandfather’s immense fortune. “I was in an unhappy place, divorced. Mum had just died. I was vulnerable. Always struggling financially. He was the answer to my prayers,” she tells Kathimerini.

In August 2013, Amanda traveled to the US again in view of her companion’s release from prison. From New Jersey, they took a bus to Utah, then on to Mexico. They could barely make ends meet, with her own meager savings and the help of the Jewish community. Sassoon asked her to pretend she was Jewish but she refused and the first tensions arose. Meanwhile, she found out she was pregnant and they decided to return to the UK.

When they passed through security at Heathrow airport, the police stopped them and questioned them separately. They persistently asked her about his passport. He claimed to have traveled on a “world citizen passport” (an unofficial travel document usually issued to refugees). But they believed he traveled with a regular passport which seemed to have disappeared. He applied for asylum as David Sassoon and, 12 hours later, was allowed to enter the country “temporarily.” Leaving the airport, he promised Amanda everything would be fine. But the next few months were a nightmare for her. The police arrested the asylum applicant for driving an uninsured car (December 2014) and then again for shoplifting (January 2015). Finally, when he attempted to obtain a loan with fake documents, he was convicted. “You are a shameless conman,” the judge said, according to an excerpt from the transcript at Kathimerini’s disposal. In March 2015, he was sent to prison.

A few weeks after his release, in February 2016, he met Sharon Levy through a Jewish dating website. When he was arrested on February 13, 2018, and sent to prison for the second time in the UK, she stood by his side. She visited him and sent money; he sent her drawings and handwritten letters. In August 2018, they got married in London’s Pentonville Prison.

During the same period, a Florida court was looking for Sassoon, seeking clarifications on a lawsuit he had filed against Iran and Hezbollah, claiming $1.5 billion in compensation for his mother’s death. In the 41-page suit, he gave a new, different version of his life. It says he was born in Vermont, USA, and his mother, Josephine, of the Cattaui dynasty, was an American agent (as he claimed to be himself – supposedly). She had been on a secret mission in Argentina when she was killed in a 1994 bombing, which he believes was orchestrated by Iran. According to court documents, he mailed the lawsuit from an address in Florida, USA. But at that time, he was in the UK, unable to leave the country. So who had sent the lawsuit?

Kathimerini’s investigation traced the real sender. It was 52-year-old Kimberly Armando, Sassoon’s ex-wife in the US. Only, according to the marriage certificate in her possession, her husband’s name was not David Sassoon but Khalid El Sheriff. “He is from Sudan, with Egyptian ties. He was not Jewish but Muslim, and often went to a mosque to pray,” she tells Kathimerini. She had met him in 1999 in Arizona. They got married in April 2002. Their marriage, she recounts, was difficult, filled with lies. In September 2005, the FBI raided their Savannah home and arrested him for financial fraud. She struggled to get a divorce and completely lost track of her ex-husband until 2015 when he contacted her again from the UK.

“He told me he was deported, but that he did some work for Fort Dix, and his criminal past was wiped away.” He told her that he found his real family, that he was the heir to an immense fortune and was now a Jew. Even his date of birth had changed. It was no longer September 25 but October 6 – the day the Yom Kippur War broke out. He told her he never stopped loving her and had never felt so close to anybody before. He convinced her.

“I wasn’t very strong and able to fight him the way I usually did,” she tells Kathimerini. She then filed the lawsuit against Iran on his behalf, and in 2017 she agreed to join the board of Specter Command Inc, an intermediary company, supposedly for armaments, which turned into a scam (with one of their clients, George Cohen, sending Sassoon $40,000 ahead of the signing of a – fictitious – $3.5 billion contract with Saudi Arabia). When Armando found out in 2018 that he was back in jail in the UK, she was relieved. She was determined to walk away. This time for good.

Act 5
Greece, the promised land

In March 2020, “Sassoon” was released from prison and his wife, Sharon Levy, was still at his side. According to documents brought to the attention of Kathimerini, the couple had applied for relocation to Israel and had made contacts to go to Portugal. They finally decided to try Greece. Besides, Sassoon speaks Greek. According to what he testified to the British authorities during the interview for his asylum, he moved to Greece with his parents when he was a boy. Later, they lived in Germany, and from there, at the age of 19, he traveled to the United States. He admitted entering the US on a Sudanese passport, which he claimed was false, under the name of Khalid El Sheriff. For 21 years, until 2013, he lived in the US under that name. He has since insisted that his name is Sassoon.

In the summer of 2020, when planning to travel to Greece, he couldn’t obtain a passport. According to two testimonies, he used someone else’s passport to enter the country. From London to Calais, then by road to Brindisi and on by boat to Patras. When he settled in Voula, he told his colleagues that Greece was the place to make his dreams come true. It may have taken him three years, but, judging by the success of the event with the high-profile guests, the 18,600-euro-a-month luxury apartment and the Porsche, he came close.

For the people who spoke to Kathimerini and were misled by him, it was difficult over the years to see him reappear, with a narrative they knew was a lie. That’s why in October 2021, Kiriakou traveled to Athens to warn the Greek authorities. The story he told the police, without of course having all the documents to back it up, may have sounded far-fetched, but they looked into it anyway, and, according to information that has been confirmed by Kathimerini, they found enough evidence of Sassoon’s activities in the UK. They informed their superiors, but they also explained to Kiriakou that there was not much they could do. “They told me that since he had not defrauded anyone in Greece, no crime could be established.” Meanwhile, Sassoon continued to make contacts in Greece. And over the past year, he has also become active in Cameroon. “It was hard to accept that someone had to be scammed in order for him to be stopped,” says Kiriakou.

‘David Sassoon’ (l) jokes with Mike Pompeo (r) at the Athens conference. The former US secretary of state received a fee of $225,000 to speak at the event.

The answer

Kathimerini contacted ‘David Sassoon’ to ask about his past and his real identity. He insists that he has never used the name Khalid El Sheriff, that his name is David Solomon Sassoon, that he was born in the United States, that he is Jewish and has a clean criminal record. “Do you think that if there was even a shred of truth in your preposterous allegations, Pompeo would have accepted my invitation?” he said.
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