Text size

Jewish millionaire Nessim Gaon and his son-in-law, Yoel Herzog, were convicted of bribery charges by a French court recently. The pair was charged with bribing Cannes mayor Michel Mouillot more than 10 years ago in an effort to put slot machines in the Noga Hilton hotel casino.

Gaon was sentenced to three years probation and fined 100,000 euros. Herzog, the brother of Housing Minister Isaac Herzog, was sentenced to two years probation and fined 50,000 euros. Central defendant Mouillot was sentenced to six years in jail.

The Noga group, its chair Gaon, and business manager Herzog were suspected of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mouillot about eight years ago. Gaon and Herzog claimed that Mouillot blackmailed them, like many other businesses in the city, in order to cover his personal debts.

Gaon and Herzog's associates said that although the verdict does them an injustice, they are relieved the protracted process ended in a whimper. An appeal is possible, and the fines were already paid via guarantees deposited more than seven years ago.

Gaon and Herzog have waged a two-year legal battle against the official receiver, who is serving as the liquidator of now defunct Bank of North America. Herzog and Gaon's son, David, served as bank directors, and were required in a negligence suit to pay NIS 140 million into the bank's receivership fund. A compromise stipulated they would pay $15 million and another $10 million should their financial situation enable them to do so. Nessim Gaon signed the compromise as a guarantor. However, the pair defaulted when Gaon family businesses in Russia went south.