Netanyahu Cronies Involved in Premier's Probe Pop Up in Panama Papers

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documents show that some of those involved in investigation into prime minister are tied to companies registered in tax havens.

James Packer, left, sits next to movie producer Arnon Milchan and listens to Benjamin Netanyahu address a joint meeting of Congress, March 3, 2015.
AFP

Some of those involved in the cases Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being investigated for are tied to companies registered in tax havens, internal documents of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which were made public in the Panama Papers leak, show.

According to the documents, Israeli producer Arnon Milchan, his son Yariv Milchan and accountant Ze'ev Feldman, were directors of two corporations registered in the Bahamas and Nassau, both tax havens.

Milchan, who was named as a person who provided Netanyahu with cigars and champagne worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, appears in the documents as a director of a company called "In Motion" that was registered in the Bahamas in 2009. Other company directors are his assistant and attorney Pini Rubin. The documents do not provide information on the company's activity but they indicate that it was closed toward the end of 2015.

Another company, Real Eighteen, was also registered in the Bahamas, in this case in 2008. The directors of this company include Yariv Milchan and accountant Ze'ev Feldman, who was mentioned in relation to Raviv Drucker's expose on the Netanyahus' ties to Australian businessman James Packer. Drucker reported that the prime minister's son, Yair Netanyahu, spent several nights in Packer's apartment in Tel Aviv, and flew to New York where he stayed at a luxury hotel in Greenwich Village, in which Packer rents a number of adjoining rooms. It was also reported that the young Netanyahu went on additional vacations at Parker's expense and even flew in his private jet.

The expose said that Packer is interested in becoming a resident of Israel in order to get tax breaks Israel gives tycoons, who immigrate to Israel, and has hired Feldman as his accountant in order to achieve this end. Packer's name also comes up in the Panama Papers. He is director of a Bahamas-registered corporation named "Publishing and Broadcasting International Holdings."

Milchan and Packer have a good relationship. Documents leaked from Sony in 2014 show that the two held a party in honor of Netanyahu in Milchan's Los Angeles home when the prime minister was visiting in 2014.