Report: Frenkel Shoplifting Affair Involved Expensive Garment Bag

Jacob Frenkel, candidate for Bank of Israel governor, presents his account of incident before nominating committee; says Hong Kong authorities have apologized for detaining him, Channel 2 reports.

A shoplifting incident that may jeopardize Jacob Frenkel's chances of becoming the next Bank of Israel governor involved an expensive garment bag, Channel 2 reported Friday.

The incident, which occurred in 2006 at the airport in Hong Kong, was first reported by Haaretz last week.

According to the Channel 2 report, Frenkel presented his side of the story to the Turkel Committee, which is tasked with examining candidacies for top public service posts. Frenkel told the committee that seven years ago, he was held up while leaving a duty free shop in Hong Kong’s airport in possession of a garment bag for which he did not pay.

It was previously reported that the mishap revolved around a bottle of perfume.

Frenkel claimed that a colleague traveling with him at the time was supposed to pay for the bag, as per an agreement between them. He credited the incident to a misunderstanding and asked to be released so as not to miss his flight. Ultimately he did not make the flight and had to remain in Hong Kong for an additional night.

Frenkel presented a document written by his attorney, Sharon Sar, which stated that the local authorities in Hong Kong apologized for the misunderstanding, and that Frenkel did not seek compensation for the ordeal. It is unknown whether Frenkel is in possession of official documents from Hong Kong that could corroborate his account.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who was interviewed on the program, was furious over the criticism leveled at Frenkel. “We don’t believe people by default," Lapid said. "The man is 70 years old, a winner of the Israel Prize, who gave up his high-paying job to come serve at his advanced age. But we don't give him the benefit of the doubt. There is something ugly and violent about the public’s tone. It’s sad."

Asked whether he will try to find a different candidate in the next few days, Lapid responded: “I won’t say that because of gossip we’re asking him to decline the job. The Turkel Committee will decide.”

“Any honorable, caring person would be devastated” over what has happened to Frenkel, continued Lapid. 

Bloomberg