Earlier justice minister, called billionaire among Israelis in ‘Pandora papers’

Several prominent Israelis were named in the so-called “Pandora Papers”, a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 different firms distributed over the world, including a former justice minister, a secretive billionaire and a leading Likud legislator.

There are about 565 Israelis on the list in the Pandora Papers, published by the International Consortium of Investigative journalists, according to Shomrim, a non-profit investigative journalism organization Which took part in the research.

the straw man

Former minister Labor Justice Justice Haim Ramon was one of the prominent Israelis die were called in the report released on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative journalists involving 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It’s called the “Pandora Papers” because the findings are shaking light on the previous hidden transactions of the elite and the corrupt, and how they used offshore accounts to shield assets collective worth trillions of dollar.

Ramon’s name comes up in link met a dubious tourism real estate deal in Montenegro with Austrian casino magnate Martin Schlaff.

The allegations revolve around the “Bigova Bay” company. set up in 2006, with a loan of 20 million euros from an Austrian bank, until set up a tourism project in Montenegro.

The company started buying land in the area, but was hit by the 2008 financial crisis. In 2013, the company was sold to another company, MS Privatstiftung, which is owned by Schlaff.

Earlier justice minister, called billionaire among Israelis in ‘Pandora papers’

In this October 11, 2007 file photo, Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff arrives for An round of the BAWAG process in Vienna main court of law. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)

However, in 2016 the company had about 52 million euros in debts and Schlaff sold it to a Cypriot company, apparently partly owned by Ramon. later documents show Ramon then became the sole owner.

The deal doesn’t matter though financial meaning, given the size of the company debt, lack of progress and a clause die allows Schlaff to buy back Company.

Schlaff is a well-known name in Israel, that’s been tyres met several Israeli politicians, including the corruption process of current Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman. Lieberman was acquitted.

Ramon, a rising star in Israeli politics until he was convicted in 2007 of force kiss on An young female soldier, denied any wrongdoing in the “Bigova Bay” deal.

“I completely reject the accusation that I was a ‘straw man’ for MS Privatstiftun. these accusations are harmful, hurtful and not true’ said Ramon in a statement.

Ramon said his company was only “working to mine the ‘Bigova Bay’ project of the dead-end in in which it is entangled.”

Courts and mines

also named in the papers is the mysterious Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz, who was convicted for this year of bribe in a court in Geneva.

Steinmetz was aaccused of to have set up a complex financial web, including a system of cover companies, in to pay bribes — partly via Swiss Bills — So Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) Could Get Mining Permits in Southeastern Guinea Simandou region.

The area is estimated to contain the worldthe largest untapped iron ore deposits.

In a special case last year a Romanian court convicted Steinmetz and political adviser Tal Silberstein in absence up to five years in jail each in an organized crime case.

Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz is comforted by lawyer Camille Haab after his conviction for corruption linked to mining deals in Guinea, in Geneva on January 22, 2021. Steinmetz was sentenced to five years in jail. (STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)

The two Israelis were found guilty of “the creation of an organized criminal group” in An property-related case die dates back until 2006-2008 and cost the Romanian state $145 million.

According to the papers in 2018 Steinmetz, informed of legal processes against he, and his children decided to spend about $1 billion over to siphon from a in Lichtenstein established fund, to one in the Cook Islands.

The official reason given for the transfer was that the Steinmetz family were unhappy with the performance of the foundation.

Steinmetz had no comment on the transfer.

blind faith

Another prominent Israeli name is Likud MK Nir Barkat.

According to the report, the eToro company that owns Barkat in is registered in the Virgin Islands, despite the majority of its offices are located in Israel. While a company is registered in a tax haven in itself is not always illegal, it can in to fight met the guidelines of the Knesset Ethics Committee.

bar cat, die was mayor of Jerusalem between 2008 and 2018, insisted his wealth was under a blind faith, as most politicians do. But according to Shomrin, the leaked data showed that many of his net worth was still in his name until 2019.

Likud Member of Parliament Nir Barkat on a Likud event marking the 8th night of the jewish holiday of hanukkah, on December 29, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

After Barkat was elected to the Knesset in 2019, he carried over the same shares to his brother Eli Barkat, Despite Knesset Ethics Committee Guidelines die An “public trust company,” Shomrim said.

Barkat’s office issued a statement on Sunday stating that “when he… public bol about 18 years ago he handed over the management of all are business activity for his brother, and when he was elected to the Knesset, he submitted blind trust documents in together met An… full declaration of capital to the ethics committee and asked: for his guidance.”

“It is hard to disconnect political interests play in the publication of this ridiculous ‘investigation,’ the statement added.

Barkat had previously tried to finance Israel minister, and last year, then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would tap him for the role if he managed a government.

In 2019, the business Forbes Israel magazine estimated Barkat’s net worth met some 500 million NIS ($139 million), making him the wealthiest legislator.

More than a dozen heads of state and government, including the king of Jordan and Czech Republic prime minister, have amassed millions in secret offshore assets, according to the research.

The so-called “Pandora Papers” investigation – involving some 600 journalists from dozens of of media including The Washington Post and The Guardian — is based on on the leak of about 11.9 million documents from 14 financial service companies around the world.

Read More: World News


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