Peres Says Big Money From Speeches Goes to Charity

The former president makes speeches for Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Federations of North America. He is already being rapped for a similar deal with Bank Hapaolim.

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Former President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres Dec. 18, 2014.
Former President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres Dec. 18, 2014.Credit: AP

Shimon Peres said yesterday hundreds of thousands of dollars he earns from speeches are donated to educational and other projects, after Channel 1 television reported over the weekend that the former president makes such addresses for Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Federations of North America, which raise money for philanthropy in Israel and abroad.

Keren Hayesod and the federations raise money for philanthropy in Israel and abroad.

“Jewish organizations worldwide approached former President Shimon Peres requesting a round of speeches and meetings all over the United States and Europe and help with fundraising to strengthen Jewish communities worldwide,” Peres’ office said in a statement.  “These activities significantly increased fundraising for the Jewish communities and Israel. It was agreed in advance that his remuneration for the lectures would be given as a donation for educational and social projects in Israel.”

In the meantime, TheMarker has learned that Peres’ consulting firm was in negotiations to provide services to Teva Pharmaceuticals, Israel’s biggest company and the world’s largest maker of generic drugs, for a retainer of about $10,000 a month.

Teva confirmed it was in talks with Peres Consulting. “Teva has a framework agreement with Peres Consultants focused on the global matters exclusively. The terms of work between the two sides have still not been formulated,” it said.
Sources said proceeds would go to president’s nonprofit Peres Peace Center in Tel Aviv.

Last week Peres said he was pulling out of a $30,000-a-month agreement to help promote Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s biggest lender, after TheMarker’s story on the deal sparked criticism. Sources close to Peres told TheMarker that unlike the case with other former high officials, Peres’ fees go toward social and philanthropic projects.

Peres also pulled out of a plan to speak at a gala event Hapoalim will be holding Monday at New York’s Museum of Natural History to mark the 40th year of the bank’s operations in New York. Sources said on Sunday that Ehud Barak, Israel’s former prime minister and defense minister, was in talks with the bank to take Peres’ place for a fee of $70,000. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is taking a $150,000 fee to appear as well.

Both Barak’s office and the bank declined to comment.

According to the Channel 1 program “Yoman,” Peres was invited by Keren Hayesod to deliver a series of speeches last December in Zurich, Geneva, Amsterdam and Paris for a fee of about $100,000 per speech as well as reimbursement for expenses.

According to Channel 1’s Ayala Hasson, Peres encouraged the guests to donate to Keren Hayesod, and also spoke at fundraising events of the Jewish federations in Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

According to Channel 1, Peres’ staff requested $150,000 per speech from the Jewish Federations of North America, but it is not clear how much he received.
“The former president did in fact speak successfully at all those events,” Keren Hayesod said. “The full details of dealings with him are not for publication, according to the contract that was signed.”

Bank Hapoalim is under investigation by the U.S. authorities on suspicion of helping its clients  dodge taxes in the United States. The bank has made provisions worth 196 million shekels ($50 million) to cover any damages.    

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