Where is Boaz Yona?
Romania's politicians say they know exactly where the missing leader of imploding real estate company Heftsiba is. Or, at least they know 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, a business source told TheMarker yesterday. The source added that Yona has been in Romania for several days.
Speaking on Army Radio, Romanian parliament member Nati Meir confirmed Yona's whereabouts, and said he's acting 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.
The Romanian authorities now know where Yona is, too, Meir said: at a resort town 160 kilometers north of Bucharest.
Other sources in Romania also attest to Yona's presence in the country. "They could arrest him within 10 minutes," Meir says, "but the Israel Police haven't issued an international warrant for his arrest."
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.
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.
If the Israel Police do issue an international warrant, 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.
The police commented that the conditions are not right for issuing an international warrant.
In other Heftsiba news, the banks yesterday vehemently denied allegations of illegal activities in respect to the foundering real estate company. "Our people have not been summoned for questioning, and we are confident that we acted properly," said a source at one of the banks, in response to reports that the police intend to grill managers and lower-ranking workers at banks that lent money to Heftsiba.
The bank workers are suspected of accepting bribes from Heftsiba, among other offenses. A police source involved in the investigation stated that the investigative team will also be examining the entire banking system's behavior in its dealings with Heftsiba. "There are more than a few unanswered questions about the banks' conduct in this affair," the source said.
The second week of the investigation into Heftsiba's collapse ends tomorrow. The fraud squad is still collecting evidence from homebuyers and trying to locate money that wound its way through dozens of bank accounts belonging to the group and to the Yona family. The police hope to determine how much of the money paid by homebuyers reached the creditor banks, and how much went elsewhere.
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