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The Securities Authority passed 17 files to the State Prosecution last year, 10 of them with recommendations that those investigated should be prosecuted, according to a report that the authority released this week on its activities for 2001. There are currently 34 criminal cases being pursued, five more under appeal, and 10 civil suits in court, the report added.

According to the accompanying letter to the finance minister from Securties Authority director, Miri Katz, the major factor affecting the authority during 2001 was the setting up of the electronic reporting system within such a short time. Katz wrote that the system was one of the most technologically advanced of its kind in the world, and included, inter alia, a comprehensive usage of electronic signatures. Katz believed the investment made by the authority, as well as legislative changes, would pay off and help boost the local capital market.

The business sector raised NIS 2.8 billion in 2001 through tradeable securities (mostly corporate bonds) and shares, compared to a total NIS 5.2 billion in 2000, but the figures show an increasing trend toward raising capital through bonds, rather than shares. Over the past year, companies raised NIS 2.6 billion through bonds, compared to only NIS 270 million in the preceding year.

Due to the drop in prices on the stock exchange, there was a rise in the attempts by shareholders to bid for the entire company of which they had control. There were 54 such offers in 2001, compared to only 16 in 2000. In the vast majority of these cases (43 of the 54) the offer included removing the company from the exchange and returning it to private ownership. By the end of 2001, 21 companies were taken off the exchange.

The authority's budget for last year was NIS 66 million, of which NIS 36 million went on salaries for the staff of 126 workers. The authority enjoyed an annual income of NIS 67.5 million for the year.