It had seemed that Nochi Dankner, who over the past month has seen the Tel Aviv District Court order control of his debt-ridden IDB group transferred to a consortium headed by Moti Ben-Moshe’s German firm Extra Holding, had given up any further legal action. On Wednesday, however, his lawyer asked the court to mandate further disclosure of Ben-Moshe’s business interests.
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At least in the interim, the lawyer, Shmulik Cassouto, was asking the court to vacate its order transferring IDB to Ben-Moshe and his partner, Argentine businessman Eduardo Elsztain, amid allegations of illegal business conduct at Extra Holding. For its part, Extra Holding called the allegations false claims that have already been thoroughly considered by the experts in the case.
The IDB group controls such fixtures on the Israeli business scene as Super-Sol, the country’s largest supermarket chain, and Cellcom, the major wireless operator.
“We are not seeking to delay or stop the IDB [transfer]. All that we are asking of the court today is for the disclosure to all of the creditors of the [investigative report on Ben-Moshe carried out by the] Israel Securities Authority, the Justice Ministry’s Official Receiver’s Department and Hagai Olman, the official court observer, so we can review it,” Cassouto said Wednesday.
Cassouto said he was representing Dankner and not Dankner’s corporations, and made it clear that he was not seeking to have the company returned to Dankner. He was simply questioning whether it should be given to Ben-Moshe.
When asked why Dankner was seeking the disclosure of the report when the creditors themselves did not ask for it, Cassouto said the investigation into Ben-Moshe’s business operations was impeded by the fact that it was carried out during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season abroad.
Cassouto said that he and his colleagues had submitted information that raised serious suspicions that Extra Holding had engaged in “money laundering, value added tax violations [and] illegal use of customers’ money and that Ben-Moshe is not the only controlling shareholder as he declared in court.”
When challenged about his suggestion that the information was not properly investigated, Cassouto replied: “Who exactly examined the data? Everyone was on vacation. If what was written in [our] reports is indeed found to be true, it’s frightening. Control of [Israel’s] largest conglomerate, control of companies such as Super-Sol, Clal Insurance and Cellcom, will be managed by people who are engaging in money laundering. We are therefore asking the court to disclose the report [of the examiners] to us and the creditors, and to give us a chance to deal with what is written there and prove that it doesn’t make sense.”
And Cassouto added: “If the German authorities were to take over Extra, would the creditors in Israel really want the German public to own the largest business in [Israel]?”