Professor Ron Shapira, one of Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's candidates for the Supreme Court, failed to inform the Judicial Appointments Committee that Shapira was a partner in a company with Yaakov Bardugo, one of the chief suspects in a case of alleged bribery at the Mifal Hapayis national lottery.
Until being informed that Haaretz had the details of the partnership, Shapira continued to deny it; he also asked the paper not to publish it.
Shapira, 44, is a former dean of Bar-Ilan University's law school. Today he is a defense attorney in private practice, specializing in white-collar crime. One of his more famous clients is David Appel.
According to the Registrar of Companies, Shapira, Bardugo and another man, Jawid Aldardashti, each own one-third of the company Glilot Hahadasha, founded in 2005. At that time, Bardugo was a suspect in a different case, involving alleged wrongdoing at a municipal economic corporation. The Justice Ministry says that case was closed for lack of evidence four months ago.
In his initial conversation with Haaretz, Shapira flatly denied his partnership with Bardugo.
I understand that you know each other and are business partners.
"No, what are you talking about?"
You aren't partners?
But you know him?
"I know him very well, but we aren't partners."
There's a company called Glilot Hahadasha.
"Yes, but it's a shell company. There's nothing to it."
But it belongs to you both.
Then you are partners?
"We set up a company a few years ago, and it seems to me that we haven't even paid the license fee for three or four years. We thought to buy some property, the deal never got off the ground, and that's it ... It was an option deal with some Arab who wanted to sell us a property. It turned out that he didn't have the property, so the company died. As far as I know, the company is in liquidation. It didn't pay corporate tax, didn't open files for value-added or income tax; it has nothing ... There was a Bedouin who claimed that he had Turkish registration on the land ... We went to Be'er Sheva to open the file and it turned out that his 'rights' weren't rights - and that's it."
Haaretz discovered that the Bedouin in question was Yusuf Sufi of Tamra, who is embroiled in a legal dispute with the government over land near Be'er Sheva that was expropriated from him. He said that in 2005, Bardugo, Shapira and a third man came to him and offered to take the case, and he agreed that they could buy 50 percent of the land for $2 million if they got it back for him within two years. There were several subsequent meetings, he said, in which Shapira and Bardugo "presented themselves as partners." However, the two years ended a few months ago, and today, another lawyer is handling the case.
Glilot Hahadasha is not Shapira's only connection with Bardugo. Three years ago, Bardugo was involved in an effort to buy shares in Maman, which operates the cargo terminal at Ben-Gurion Airport, together with Maman's employees. Workers Committee Chair David Himmelfarb said that Shapira attended one of his meetings with Bardugo.
"We didn't want Bardugo, we wanted his partner, Professor Shapira," Himmelfarb added.
However, that deal also fell through.
Candidates for judgeships are required to fill out an application that demands details of all business dealings "by you or on your behalf." However, Shapira left this question blank.
He later claimed that, "No one, including private attorneys, has ever written anything there except legal partnerships."
But Yaffa Mor, coordinator of the Judicial Appointments Committee, said that candidates must also list any companies they own.
Ayalet Filo, spokeswoman for the Courts Administration, said that candidates are required "to fill out all relevant sections."
In a response for this article, Shapira said: "The trend of your questions indicates a media manipulation that does no honor to a serious paper and serious investigative reporting. To take a list of the hundreds of people whose paths have innocently crossed that of a man under criminal investigation, to selectively choose some of them, and then to highlight their names, along with implied hints, as if there were something wrong with their actions, makes a mockery of the idea of investigative reporting."
Bardugo declined to answer Haaretz's questions on this issue.
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