Gil Agmon, the legendary chief executive of Delek Automotive and its subsidiary Delek Motors, has been detained for allegedly bribing a civil servant working at a municipal planning and construction committee.
Agmon was detained yesterday morning by the white-collar crime squad in Lod, and will be brought before a judge today. Delek Automotive's chief operating officer Yoram Mizrahi was also detained in the case.
In a related development, a former Delek Motors worker who lives in Herzliya - Zvi Scheibinger - was also arrested for allegedly attempting to extort Delek officials, and threatening them. Apparently, the Delek executives in question are Agmon and Mizrahi. The police searched Scheibinger's home yesterday as well as the offices of Delek Motors.
Scheibinger carried out various projects for Delek Automotive and Delek Motors on a self-employed basis. The police are investigating whether he mediated between the Delek car-import companies and the planning committee.
In March 2006, Scheibinger was questioned by the Lod white-collar crime force in another case of suspected corruption of municipal planning and construction committee members.
Scheibinger claims that the two Delek units owe him money for projects he carried out.
The police are investigating whether Scheibinger threatened people at the two companies, specifically, that unless they paid their debts in full, he would expose misdeeds by Agmon and Mizrahi.
All three were questioned throughout the day and evening yesterday, and spent the night in jail. They will be brought before a Ramle Magistrates Court judge at 9:00 o'clock this morning, and police are expected to request extending their remand.
A police spokesperson commented that Agmon and Mizrahi are being questioned on suspicion that they bribed a civil servant involved in construction permits.
Although the parent Delek Group engages in real estate, among other things, the Delek Automotive group confines its operations to importing vehicles, specifically Mazda and Ford cars, through subsidiaries including Delek Motors. Agmon has famously made a personal fortune through a profit-sharing motivational scheme common among the group of companies owned by Yitzhak Tshuva.
Meanwhile, shares of Delek Automotive on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange were trading at a hefty gain of 4 percent until 12:45 yesterday. The benchmark at the time was slightly above zero, but when rumors started circulating that Gil Agmon and another top exec at the car-import giant had been arrested, share prices started losing ground.
By the time news reports circulated that Agmon and Mizrahi were being grilled by the police, Delek Automotive shares were losing 1.25 percent. At that point the stock exchange halted trading in the share, to give investors a chance to digest the developments, instead of reacting to the news.
Delek Automotive published a superlative report two weeks ago for the second quarter of 2007. The company reported that its net profit had climbed 70 percent compared with the same three months of 2006, to NIS 120 million. Its results demonstrate just why shares of Delek Automotive jumped 67 percent from the start of the year.
Shares of the parent company Delek Group lost a mere 0.7 percent.
Gil Agmon, 45, father of three, foresaw the leasing revolution in Israel and made Delek Automotive Israel's No. 1 importer of cars. Thanks to Tshuva's policy of sharing the wealth with the talent, he personally owns 15.7 percent of Delek Automotive, worth some NIS 670 million.
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