Fraud Squad Lifts Lid on Possible Coffee Services Scam

The police fraud squad yesterday arrested several persons on suspicion of industrial espionage in the sale of Coffee To Go to Strauss. Among those arrested are Ron Rosenblum, former owner of Coffee To Go, the company's chief operations officer, Golan Eini, and Moshe Harel, owner of the Cafe Greg company.

Police suspect that Eini gave sensitive information to Rosenblum and Harel that enabled them to win lucrative tenders worth millions of shekels.

The investigation began several weeks ago following suspicions at Strauss that someone had undermined their ability to win tenders for coffee services in central Israel. In April 2008, Strauss acquired Coffee To Go from Rosenblum; however, most of the company employees stayed on under the Strauss ownership.

Golan Eini, who served as chief operations officer under the former owner, was suspected of being a Trojan horse in the firm after it was bought by Strauss, said Ariel Friedman, an officer at the fraud squad.

"Since the sale of the firm to Strauss he is suspected of relaying sensitive and secret strategic information to Rosenblum and Moshe Harel, the owner of another coffee services company, Cafe Greg, and we believe that this information helped them win tenders for coffee operations at Tel Aviv University and the central train station [in Tel Aviv]," Friedman added.

"It looks like he worked methodically and even tried to delete e-mails he sent to the other two suspects, but we managed to recover the deleted correspondence," the officer said.

During questioning after the arrest of the three, Eini admitted that he relayed sensitive information to Rosenblum and Harel, even though the latter two deny the suspicions against them.

After questioning they were released to house arrest once they provided the required guarantees. They have been ordered not to leave the country.