margol - Oren Ziv - August 17 2011
Margalit Tzan’ani at the Be’er Sheva tent protest last week. Photo by Oren Ziv
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One of Israel's most popular singers, Margalit Tzan'ani, spent last night in Neve Tirza women's prison after her arrest yesterday on suspicion of extortion.

Police suspect that Tzan'ani asked crime figures associated with the Amir Mullner crime family to collect a debt for her from her manager, Asaf Atadagi. Atadagi is also the manager for singer Omer Adam, and Tzan'ani is believed to have thought she deserved a commission for Adam's success.

Investigators from the national unit on economic crimes are also looking into whether Tzan'ani influenced the outcome of the vote on "A Star is Born" - the Keshet TV talent show on which she serves as a judge.

They suspect she tried to turn the tables in favor of contestant Liron Ramati, who in fact reached the finals in the last season.

Tzan'ani and four other suspects - including her son, Asaf Lavi-Tzan'ani - are to be brought to the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court this morning for a remand hearing.

Tzan'ani has denied all the allegations.

Her PR director, Ofer Menahem, issued a statement along with Keshet and Channel 24: "We are not familiar with the details at this time. We hope things will clear up quickly."

The singer has been under surveillance for the past six weeks. A wiretap allegedly revealed her direct involvement with crime figures.

Police suspect that after Tzan'ani and Atadagi were unable to reach an agreement on the debt - estimated at a few hundred thousand shekels - the pair sought an arbitrator, who ruled in favor of Tzan'ani.

When Atadagi supposedly refused to pay, Tzan'ani allegedly asked Yossi Ben-David, a music producer, to act as a middleman between her and members of the Mullner crime family.

The Mullner crime figures are suspected of threatening Atadagi over a long period of time.

Police suspect that Tzan'ani may have paid the Mullner crime organization by attempting to influence the judging on "A Star is Born" in Ramati's favor.

Ofer Amar, allegedly a member of the Mullner crime family; Michael Hazan, Amir Mullner's alleged right-hand man; and Ben-David are also to be brought to court this morning for a remand hearing. Atadagi, however, did not go to the police.

Police are moving forward with the investigation as part of their war against economic crimes. They say the probe is part of the ongoing fight against the Mullner crime organization.

"I did not approach crime figures, that's not my way," Tzan'ani reportedly told investigators yesterday. She added that she and Atadagi were in disagreement over money, but that she had not involved the crime family.

Tzan'ani, 57, is of the most powerful women on the Israeli Mediterranean music scene.

Her first album, "Na'ari Shuva Eli" ("My Boy, Come Back to Me" ) came out in 1985 when she was 32. Since then, she has released 15 more solo albums.

She is currently the host of a program on Channel 24, "Gal U'Margol," along with her fellow judge on "A Star is Born," Gal Uchovsky.

Earlier this month, Tzan'ani became the target of public scrutiny after she came out strongly against the social protest. "I'm happy for their misfortune," she told viewers on her show on Channel 24, disparaging the motives of the protesters and calling them tzfonbonim, a term of derision used to refer to spoiled, wealthy people.

After being taken severely to task by music industry figures and the media, Tzan'ani said she was only referring to the leaders of the protest.

In an apparent bid to make amends for her comments, Tzan'ani performed at the protest rally in Be'er Sheva on Saturday night.