Police have raided Bank Hapoalim headquarters in Tel Aviv and seized company documents, apparently in connection with a fraud investigation of former bank chairman Danny Dankner.
Police confirmed that the national fraud squad has been questioning Dankner under caution. Though the police refuse to comment on the nature of the allegations, they apparently include fraud and moral turpitude.
Dankner spent three days under house arrest while he was being questioned.
Police appear to be investigating whether Dankner had any conflicts of interest surrounding loans extended by Bank Hapoalim during his term as chairman, from 2005 to 2009.
Dankner said he was cooperating with the authorities, but would not provide any details of the investigation.
"For obvious reasons, I do not intend to comment on reports on the matter," he said. "I call [on all] to respect the investigation and to allow it to be carried out without interference. I have complete faith in the authorities and am fully cooperating with them. I hope the matter will be fully cleared up and will end as soon as possible."
In recent weeks Justice Ministry officials, including State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, have been discussing the case with police. As far as the police are concerned, the investigation has just begun, and nobody can say in which direction the case might develop. Other bank officials, and possibly leading businesspeople, are expected to be questioned.
Dankner is expected to be questioned again shortly.
Zvi Ziv, who served as CEO of Hapoalim while Dankner was chairman, has apparently been asked to provide evidence. He is not under suspicion and has not been questioned under caution.
In May of last year, Dankner became the first bank chairman in the country to be ousted by the Bank of Israel, which has declined to explain exactly why it did so.
Hapoalim's controlling shareholder, Shari Arison, had refused to fire him. She complained to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss about the central bank's conduct after Dankner was forced to resign, but he found no grounds for an investigation.
The comptroller's office said last night that the present case against Dankner is not related to the issues it examined pursuant to Arison's complaint.
Shortly after Dankner's ouster, Arison named him chief executive of her company, Arison Holdings, through which she owns her interest in Hapoalim.
Despite the investigation, he is fulfilling his duties at Arison Holdings as usual, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.
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