Israel Police Issue Int'l Warrant for Arrest of Heftsiba CEO Yona

Yona fled Israel two weeks ago, hours before public learned of company's collapse; Yona believed to be in Romania.

The Israel Police issued an international arrest warrant Wednesday for Boaz Yona, the CEO of the collapsed construction company Heftsiba.

"Since the investigation into Heftsiba began, the Israel Police has made great efforts in order to locate the prime suspect Boaz Yona," police said in a statement. "Upon receipt of approval from the prosecution, the Israel Police began working with Interpol agents, and today an international arrest warrant was approved."

The warrant was circulated to Interpol stations throughout the world. International arrest warrants are only issued once enough evidence has been collected in order to indict.

Yona fled Israel two weeks ago, mere hours before the public learned that the real estate group he led, Heftsiba, was crumbling. The police suspect that fraud and embezzlement were involved, by company officials and possibly by officials at banks that lent money for Heftsiba projects as well. The banks deny any such criminal behavior on their part.

The international warrant means that all countries that have extradition treaties with Israel would be obligated to return him if he is caught on their territory, as long as he isn't a citizen of the particular country.

Latest reports suggest that Yona is in Romania. A Romanian business source told TheMarker on Wednesday that he was seen eating at a busy Bucharest restaurant at nine in the evening on Monday.

He was sitting with a local businessman, sans family or bodyguards, the source said, adding that Yona has been in Romania for several days.

Police, however, are reacting skeptically to the reports that Yona is in Romania. A police source said Wednesday that there is no indication that Yona is in Romania, and there is no solid information whatsoever regarding his whereabouts.

Speaking on Army Radio, Romanian parliament member Nati Meir confirmed Yona's whereabouts, and said he's working to return Yona to Israel. "I know that Boaz Yona borrowed money from local investors here in Romania, and I'm afraid that he'll get into trouble and give Israelis and Jews a bad name," Meir said.

Meir said that Romanian authorities know that Yona is currently at a resort town 160 kilometers north of Bucharest, adding that he could be arrested "within ten minutes" should the Israel Police issue an international arrest warrant.

Romania has become a favorite target among Israeli property investors because it's a developing country. Meir says that the Romanian police have a vested interest in the investigation of the Heftsiba affair, since Yona is suspected of using stolen money to buy land in Romania.