Tax Authority Probe Ex-player and Coach Grilled by Police Over Fanan Ties

Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball executives are expected to be questioned by tax officials within days regarding investments by Moni Fanan, the former team manager who committed suicide last week. Shimon Mizrahi, who has been the team's chairman for the past 30 years, and vice president David Federman, considered the current strong man in the team's management, are to be questioned by Tel Aviv tax investigator Ron Hakham, as early as next week.

Yesterday Hacham and his team questioned Zvi Sherf, the coach of the national basketball team, who until about a year ago was Maccabi's coach. They also interviewed former star team member Nadav Henefeld and Tzion Natan, the former auditor of Maccabi Tel Aviv and Fanan's former partner and employee.

Investigators believe that Natan, who was also questioned on Sunday, has extensive information about Fanan's operating methods and his contacts. It is not known to what extent Natan cooperated with the authorities. Investigators reportedly are particularly interested in whether Fanan had connections with banks in Israel or abroad, with the so-called gray market or with organized crime.

Sherf and Henefeld, who are considered to have been among Fanan's closest associates, are also believed to have invested considerable sums of money with him.

No police complaints are thought to have been submitted in connection to the case. Police are following the Tax Authority investigation closely.

Sources in the Tax Authority said they believed a number of former Maccabi players, coaches and officials, as well as players from other teams, would be summoned for questioning. The chairman of the Premier League, Avner Kopel, may also be called in for questioning, as will foreign players living abroad who invested with Fanan.

The Tax Authority reportedly has information about a number of foreign players, as well as an Israeli coach working abroad, who lost money with Fanan.

The Director General of the Israel Tax Authority, Yehuda Nasradishi, met yesterday with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. It is unclear whether the two discussed the probe, as Steinitz declined to answer reporters' questions.

Nasradishi, who is overseeing the probe personally, receives updates several times a day. Yesterday he reported on progress in the the investigation to Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat.

Meanwhile, the Fanan family yesterday concluded the seven-day shiva mourning period with a memorial service at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery.

Some or all members of the family may be called in for questioning in the coming days. Fanan's son Regev played on the team until recently. His daughter, Liron, worked in the team's administration.

Yair Rabinovitch, a former income tax commissioner and former head of the Israel Football Association's budget committee, said yesterday that police know that organized crime families have taken control of soccer teams in Israel and are involved in other teams, among other purporses in order to influence illegal betting on soccer.