Israeli Mayor's Son Received $400,000 From Property at Center of Corruption Case

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Attorney Avraham Gugig, Tzafrir Feirberg and Avraham Tshuva at a remand hearing, Sept. 6, 2016.
Attorney Avraham Gogig, Tzafrir Feirberg and Avraham Tshuva at a remand hearing, Sept. 6, 2016. Credit: Moti Milrod

Tzafrir Feirberg, a lawyer and son of Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar, received some 1.5 million shekels ($400,000) in legal fees from residents of the T-Tower luxury housing complex, one of the properties at the center of a corruption case in which both Feirberg and his mother have been arrested.

Documents obtained by Haaretz show that under the contracts signed by the buyers of apartments in the westernmost of T-Tower’s three buildings, the legal fees totaled 2 percent of the purchase price and were divided equally between Feirberg and the Fischer, Behar, Chen law firm. In contrast, legal fees for residents of the other two buildings totaled only 1.5 percent of the price, paid entirely to the law firm.

The western building has the most apartments, 75. It is also the building where Feirberg himself co-owns a penthouse worth some eight million shekels together with developer Itzik Tshuva and the woman who owns the option on the land, Tikva Jarrad.

Itzik Tshuva is the son of developer Avraham Tshuva, who has also been arrested in the case, and the nephew of gas tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva.

“Explain to me why one of the country’s largest law firms, whose bread and butter is registering apartment buildings, saw fit to transfer 1 percent to a lawyer who at that time was a young lawyer,” a source familiar with the details of the case told Haaretz.

In a conversation with Haaretz before his arrest, Feirberg said that aside from his ownership of the penthouse, he had no business ties with Itzik Tshuva.

“You’re asking if I have business ties? Nothing, zero,” Feirberg said during that interview. “It’s very simple; my only connection is to Tikva [Jarrad]. Not to Itzik Tshuva.”

Attorney Amir Chen of the Fischer, Behar, Chen law firm told Haaretz that his firm wasn’t the only one involved in the T-Tower project; it was merely the firm that represented the purchasing group.

Asked whether it was logical for another lawyer to have received legal fees from the purchasers, he responded, “Additional legal fees? I don’t know. Maybe someone worked for the representatives. I don’t know. Ordinarily, we’re in charge of this. I’m the trustee who deals with the state.”

But official documents with the firm’s logo that were sent to many T-Tower residents say otherwise. “The legal fees will total 2 percent of the cost of the land and the estimated cost of building each apartment built in the project ... and it will be paid in the following manner: One percent will be paid to our firm; 1 percent will be paid to attorney Feirberg,” those documents say.

The initial documents sent to residents had said the legal fees for the western building would be 1.5 percent, payable entirely to the law firm. But in the final agreement, the amount rose to 2 percent.

Moreover, in the power of attorney that enabled the firm to act on residents’ behalf in dealings with state agencies, both Chen and Feirberg were listed as having that power. “We the undersigned, together and separately, grant power of attorney to attorney Amir Chen and/or ... any attorney from the Fischer, Behar, Chen, Well, Orion and Co. law firm, and/or attorney Tzafrir Feirberg, together or separately, to be my/our legal representatives and to take all or some of the following actions in my/our name and in my/our stead,” that document says.

An investigative report by Haaretz found that Feirberg-Ikar, the mayor, signed a construction permit for the project in 2013 even though her son had a commercial interest in the land. The mayor said she signed in good faith, inter alia because the permit application was signed by Amir Chen — the lawyer who, as the new documents show, was working together with her son.

T-Tower residents who spoke with Haaretz said they had no contact with Tzafrir Feirberg and weren’t aware that he was professionally involved in the project in any way.

“I assume he did nothing, and therefore, we never encountered him,” said one, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “All my contact as a resident was with Fischer, Behar, Chen."

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