Netanyahu Trial: Media Tycoon's Ex-company to Admit to Bribery in Plea Deal

Eurocom, which was controlled by co-defendant Shaul Elovitch, will pay a fine of 400,000 shekels ($124,000) and will admit to charges of bribe and fraud

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch.Credit: Emil Salman and Eyal Toueg
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

Israel has reached a plea bargain with Eurocom Holdings Ltd. involved in the corruption trial against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the State Prosecution Office said Tuesday.

According to the plea bargain, the company, which was previously headed by Shaul Elovitch and is undergoing dissolution, will admit to several charges and will pay a fine of 400,000 shekels ($124,000) within a year, from company assets that are realized.

The company will admit to charges of bribe and money laundering as part of Case 4000 in Netanyahu's trial, as well as to aggravated fraud, aggravated attempted fraud, fraud and breach of trust regarding the corporation.

It also admitted to violations in reporting as required by the securities law, in another trial called. The criminal liability of Eurocom Holdings derives from the actions and criminal initiatives taken by Shaul Elovitch.

Eurocom controlled Bezeq Telecommunications, Walla News and YES Satellite TV amoung other companies.

Jacque Chen, the attorney representing Elovitch, said on Tuesday that the announcement about the deal was intended to impact the Netanyahu trial. Chen said that the timing of the announcement was meant to coincide with the beginning of the testimony of another key witness in Netanyahu's trial, Shlomo Filber, on Wednesday morning, even though the deal was signed last week.

He said that “this timing was not a coincidence and was meant to create irrelevant background noise, trying to give the prosecution a morale boost and impacting people’s mindset, after it had repeatedly failed in the courtroom. The dissolving company’s admission has no legal standing; it has no other significance either.” Chen emphasized that Elovitch denied all charges against him.

In his announcement, Chen quoted words expressed by attorney Pinchas Rubin, the company’s special director who is a signatory to the plea bargain, at a preliminary hearing of the Bezeq case a year ago. “The reasons for such a deal are not ones of essence or pertinence. If we do reach an understanding and the court handling the company’s dissolution approves a deal, this will happen due to practical reasons based on the company’s dire situation, not for germane reasons.”

In Case 4000, Elovitch is accused of bribing then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu by tilting news coverage in the latter’s favor at the Walla news website, adhering to the demands of Netanyahu and his family. In exchange, steps would be taken by government authorities to benefit Elovitch and Bezeq, which was under his control.

The indictment in the “Bezeq-securities” case charges Eurocom Holdings with fraud and breach of trust in two affairs: one was fraud regarding payments received for the buying of YES shares by Bezeq. The second affair involves fraud regarding the conduct of independent committees established by Bezeq in order to examine company deals that Elovitch had a personal interest in, such as the Bezeq-YES deal and the YES-Spacecom deal.

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