Cops: Gray Market Boss Suspected in TA Grenade Attack

Police will summon gray market kingpin Sheli Narkis for questioning over his suspected involvement in Sunday's hand-grenade attack on the house of luxury car importer Yehuda Sapir. Information recently obtained by investigators connects the attack with Narkis, who is believed to have loaned millions of shekels to Sapir.

According to the investigators, two unknown assailants arrived outside Sapir's house in north Tel Aviv on motorcycles, threw the grenade and then fled the scene. No one was hurt in the incident, but serious damage was caused to the apartment building in which Sapir lives. Sapir was consequently summoned for questioning by police and interrogated for hours over his ties to the gray market.

Yesterday investigators received information that Sapir was encountering difficulties repaying loans taken from Narkis. Police said they were still investigating numerous leads, and that Sapir's ties to the gray market were just one of them.

In 2005 Narkis was sentenced to 33 months in prison under a plea bargain relating to felonies including money laundering, tax evasion and extortion. In addition, Narkis was ordered to pay a NIS 27 million fine to the state.

Narkis was recently in the headlines when the founder of technology company Emblaze, Eli Reifman, admitted to having borrowed NIS 20 million from him. News that Reifman's stocks were mortgaged to Narkis shocked the financial market and exposed the depth of the gray market's involvement in major companies. Narkis' takeover of Reifman's stock in Emblaze is just one example of his ties with the higher echelons of business in Israel. Last August, Boaz Yona, former CEO of the bankrupt building company Heftsiba who was convicted of money laundering and fraud, said he had also borrowed money from Narkis.

Fraud squad detectives uncovered an account jointly owned by Yona and Narkis at a Discount Bank branch in Jerusalem, which was used to channel millions of shekels paid by customers who were promised apartments that were never completed.

Two months ago Narkis was grilled by police over his suspected involvement in the throwing of two grenades at a Subaru dealership in Tel Aviv. That attack is believed to have been part of an attempt to extort money from Subaru dealer Amnon Barzilai and his brother Asaf Barazani, who borrowed a million and half dollars from the gray market.

"In the past I loaned money to Barzilai and Barazani," Narkis told police during his interrogation. "About a year and a half ago I loaned a million dollars to Amnon Barzilai, and his brother Asaf paid me back. A month ago I loaned money to Amnon, and I put Asaf and his wife down as guarantors. I gave them two and a half million dollars and they listed their assets in Holland as security."

Police believe that Narkis' alleged involvement in previous grenade attacks may indicate that he also ordered the grenade thrown at Sapir's house.

In a separate case, a bomb ripped through the car of nightclub owner Ziv Shaya in north Tel Aviv a few hours before the grenade attack on Sapir's house. Shaya escaped unscathed from the explosion. Police are currently investigating the incident.