28 Israelis Arrested So Far Over ‘Undisclosed’ UBS Bank Accounts

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A branch of UBS, Switzerland's largest bank.Credit: Bloomberg

Four Israelis have been released on bail in recent days, bringing to 28 the number of people arrested so far in an investigation into Israelis allegedly holding undisclosed bank accounts with the Swiss bank UBS, the Tax Authority said on Monday.

“The investigation continues and more arrests are expected,” the authority said in a statement.

“During the investigation it was revealed ... that at UBS in Switzerland, thousands of accounts held by Israelis are being managed, and it is suspected that the vast majority of money held in the accounts is not reported to the Tax Authority,” it said.

The probe began last June, when officials began investigating two Israelis suspected of operating clinics treating impotency overseas and failing to report their income from it.

The investigation found the two were supposed to meet with their banker from UBS, Roni Elias – an Israeli citizen – at a Tel Aviv hotel. Elias was arrested as were 11 others, including the comptroller of the clinics. A search of Elias’ hotel room and the local UBS offices turned up a list of other Israeli accounts at the bank.

There have been no indictments yet and the investigation is ongoing.

Among those who have since been arrested are a Yavneh resident who allegedly had accounts at UBS and Julius Bär Group with $1 million deposited; a Tel Aviv women who allegedly failed to disclose her overseas bank accounts for a decade; and a divorced couple was held for alleged holding an unreported $300,000 in a UBS account, the authority said.

A UBS spokesman in Zurich told Reuters that the bank and its Israel office are not part of the investigation and would not be commenting further. Sharon Fishman, an attorney for Elias, said her client had not been an Israeli citizen for 40 years and denied that he had helped anyone hide assets.

Israel is starting to crack down on foreign bank accounts held by its citizens, after a similar move by the United States to track accounts held by Americans abroad.

Last month, the Tax Authority said the allegedly undisclosed bank accounts at UBS were worth millions of euros.

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