Israel arrested Moshe Hogeg, the owner of one of the country's top soccer teams, on suspicion of cryptocurrency fraud involving hundreds of millions of shekels, in addition to sexual offenses, police said Thursday.
Hogeg, who has made millions of dollars trading in cryptocurrency, owns Beitar Jerusalem.
Seven other suspects were also arrested, most of them past or present club partners or employees. They are suspected of theft, money laundering and other crimes. Each is suspected of pocketing tens of millions of shekels and conspiring to mislead potential investors on a number of projects involving cryptocurrency.
The suspects knew these projects would never actually materialize, according to a police official. Investigators from the national fraud unit raided the soccer club’s offices on Thursday morning. Among the possibilities being investigated is that the illicitly obtained funds were used by the club.
Other suspicions arose during the undercover investigation, which lasted for a number of months, concerning the main suspect’s involvement in alleged sex offenses.
Police may attempt to prompt one of the suspects to turn state's evidence, in an effort to obtain evidence incriminating Hogeg and the other detainees. Among the offenses of which Hogeg is suspected are conspiracy to commit a crime, theft, aggravated fraud, intentional concealment of income, fraudulent record keeping and drug offenses.
Regarding sexual offenses, the police will be collecting evidence in the coming days, a source said. They added that police believe the publication of Hogeg's name and the allegations against him will prompt more victims to come forward.
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The offenses allegedly took place at events hosted by Hogeg, which minors attended. Late on Thursday, the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court extended Hogeg's detention until Wednesday of next week. Nine other suspects at the court session were ordered held for an additional five or six days. At the request of some of the suspects, their names are the subject of a gag order.
Hogeg's lawyers said that the club owner "vehemently denies the allegations against him and is cooperating fully with his investigators." They added that the allegations were published in the past by parties with a vested interest, and that they believe the investigation will reveal that the suspicions are baseless.
Beitar Jerusalem issued a statement saying that "as far as we know, there is no connection between the supposed suspicions and the club's activity."
"We will fully cooperate with any investigative body and will show any document that is required with total transparency. The club's activity is continuing as usual, and later in the day there will be regular training for all teams in the club," it added.