Israel Securities Authority investigators raided the offices this week of the food manufacturer Neto, the company told the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Thursday. The firm’s controlling shareholders include Adi Ezra, the husband of supermodel Bar Refaeli.
The raid came a week after news that Refaeli herself had lost a court case and would have to pay millions of shekels in back taxes.
Neto, which is one of Israel’s five biggest food companies, said ISA investigators searched its offices on Tuesday. “To the best of the company’s knowledge, the investigation concerns offenses involving the use of insider trading in cases not related to the company’s activities. It should also be noted that a company employee was questioned regarding the matter,” Neto said in a statement to the TASE without naming the employee.
Neto shares fell 3.5% to 298 shekels ($83) on Thursday.
Neto said that on the same day the authority raided its offices, it also searched the offices of the non-bank credit provider Nawi Group, taking in several of its employees for questioning. Market sources said the raid on Neto was apparently related to insider trading linked to Nawi. As of now, no arrests have been made. Insider trading is the use of information not yet been made public, such as an impending merger and acquisition deal, that would give the holder an unfair advantage over other investors in the market.
Last month the Central District Court in Lod rejected Refaeli’s contention that she hadn’t spent enough time in Israel – or for that matter in any other country – to be liable for Israeli taxes in the years 2009 and 2010, when she was living mostly in the United States with her then boyfriend, actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Her lawyers said they would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Refaeli and her parents are also facing possible indictment on criminal charges of tax evasion, money laundering and perjury. The indictment would not be filed until Refaeli is either granted a hearing with the tax and economic department of the State Prosecutor’s Office or waives her right to the hearing.
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