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An indictment was filed yesterday at Petah Tikva District Court against five suspects on charges of illegal gambling, tax offenses and fraud, as well as suspicion that, between 2000 and 2002, they ran a network of almost 100 gambling computer programs situated in Internet cafes, kiosks and lottery stations across the country.

The suspects have been named as Meir Abergil, Yoram Zarfati, Yoel Schneider and brothers Reuven and Ezra Gavrieli. Charges were also filed against the companies owned by the suspects.

The indictment states that customers who lost money at the betting venues would pay on site with cash or check. The bets would be registered in the Dominican Republic, with daily reports of financial transactions produced in Cyprus and distributed in Israel.

The Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office said the gaming venues were effectively being used as casinos, and the indictment indicates that the gambling operations brought in revenues of tens of millions of shekels.

Gavrieli's brainchild

Prosecutors said the gambling ring was the brainchild of Reuven Gavrieli and a partner, Motti Menashe. The "Net Casino" program distributed to gaming venues was developed by the firm "Bet and Chat," owned jointly by the two men. The other suspects were allegedly involved in distributing the program to various gaming venues.

Yesterday's indictment was filed by attorneys in Tel Aviv District Court's tax and finance bureau. Accompanying the indictment was a request signed by the attorney heading the bureau, Ela Rubinek, to seize the suspects' assets, including vehicles worth a combined NIS 20 million, as well as homes and agricultural holdings.

An attorney for Zarfati said yesterday that he would respond to the charges "once we learn more about the case." Representatives for Menashe refused comment, and attorneys for the Gavrieli brothers could not be reached.