At the height of the social protest in summer 2011, Yair Lapid wrote a seminal article in which he addressed my "brothers the slaves." Lapid, then an influential journalist with political ambitions – and a very influential platform, his weekly column in Yedioth Ahronoth – told his readers that they were right to protest. "You are slaves, because slavery is a system where you work and someone else profits," he wrote. "Someone who is well-connected, organized, who the rules of the games were written for." The article made quite a splash. "Right on target! Yair, I can't wait to vote for you in elections" was the typical type of response the article received on Facebook. But what Lapid didn't tell his readers – and future voters – was that financially at least, he was far from being one of those slaves.
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The information in Haaretz's possession has revealed that Lapid received an average of NIS2,000,000 per annum from his various labors over the years. The income of the future Finance Minister (correct at the time of press) was paid into the company Lapid Yair Ltd. He established the company in 2002, and is listed as the sole owner until this day. In 2011, prior to entering politics, his company had an additional, unusual deposit that stood out from the others that had arrived over the previous years. It was over NIS1,000,000, and was listed on the company's books as a dividend. It should be noted that withdrawing money this way – as a dividend instead of a wage payment – means that ultimately the tax paid to the state on the sum is lower. Several accountants have said that this is a well-known, accepted practice. Lapid was asked this week by Haaretz if the source of the dividend was income from the company itself or from another source, but he refused to answer.
Until his entrance into politics, Lapid worked in many fields: from 2008 he presented Channel 2's Friday night news-show; he wrote a popular weekly column for Yedioth Ahronoth for a decade; he published books and gave lectures. He was Bank Hapoalim's presenter for five years, which according to previous reports netted him around NIS4,000,000.
After the end of his contract with Bank Hapoalim, Lapid's company made a total of more than NIS8,000,000 between 2008-2011 (excluding the dividend). At the start of 2012 Lapid announced that he would be entering politics and leaving his job as presenter of Ulpan Shishi ("Friday Studio") on Channel 2. That year, the company's income dropped sharply and stood at around NIS600,000. For the remainder of most of the year, Lapid continued to write his column for Yedioth Ahronoth, so we can estimate that a significant portion of that amount came from the paper.
Lapid Yair Ltd. uses the services of the accountant Meni Rosenzvieg, from VBIR Certified Public Accountants. Their website says they are "the leading accountants in the country in the field of care and support for 'talent,' artists and their agents." A source who is familiar with the company's activities says that almost all its income comes from the Yitzug 1 artists' representation agency, owned by the agent Boaz Ben Zion. Lapid's profile can still be found on the agency's website, alongside his CV.
At the start of the year, the "Forbes Israel" magazine estimated Lapid's fortune at NIS22,000,000, a calculation based on his projected wages and the value of his home in Ramat Aviv. Lapid responded to the report with two words: "I wish." Various estimates of his salary from Yedioth Ahronoth and from Channel 2 have also been published in the past. The majority of them referred to a total amount of around NIS150,000 per month.
The data published here for the first time proves that Lapid's total income was much higher. There is nothing wrong with these figures and there are also those that appreciate the fact that Lapid gave up such a high income in favor of a minister's salary, which is high itself yet significantly lower than what he had become accustomed to.
However, it is unclear why Lapid – who sees himself as a representative of the middle classes and whose party declares its belief in a government that is transparent before its citizens – refuses to address these facts. Furthermore, in an interview published on the Mako website last year, his agent Ben Zion denied the estimate of NIS150,000 a month, which he said was "a fabrication," and "nonsense."
Lapid's spokeswoman, Nili Reichman, refused to comment on these findings and the questions that arise from them.