Israel's Prosecutor Seeks to Add Tax Evasion to Charges Against Former Bank Hapoalim Chair

The prosecution says the police investigation of the case over the past several weeks has uncovered evidence that Danny Dankner was involved in drawing up a fictitious contract in an effort to evade paying taxes.

The state prosecutor’s office last week filed a court request seeking to add an additional criminal charge for tax evasion to an indictment filed last October against former Bank Hapoalim chairman Danny Dankner.

The prosecution says the police investigation of the case over the past several weeks has uncovered evidence that Dankner was involved in drawing up a fictitious contract in an effort to evade paying taxes.

Dankner was initially indicted last October in connection with four separate cases relating to the period of his bank chairmanship, involving allegations of fraud, money laundering and breach of trust.

Among the allegations is a count that relates to the acquisition of the Turkish Pozitif Bank in 2005. Dankner is charged with breach of his duty of trust toward Bank Hapoalim and conflict of interest involving the RP Group. Dankner is also charged with fraud and harming the proper management of the bank’s business.

A second count includes charges of fraud concerning the Dutch DHB bank, breach of his duty of trust toward Bank Hapoalim and other misconduct.

A year and a half ago, Dankner was also charged in connection with the Holyland affair. At the center of the Holyland case is the claim that Jerusalem municipal officials accepted bribes in connection with the development of a real estate project in the city. Dankner, however, is accused of bribing the then head of the Israel Lands Administration to get land owned by his Israel Salt Industries firm in Atlit and Eilat rezoned.

Prosecutors are now seeking to amend their indictment in the later case to include an allegation that Dankner prepared a fictitious contract or induced it to be prepared to evade real-estate transfer taxes and improvement taxes.

The accusations relate to a property settlement between Dankner and his ex-wife, Shoshana Vizen, that allegedly included false details regarding the couple’s property holdings. The agreement gave Dankner the couple’s house in Atlit, south of Haifa, and in return the former bank chairman was to get millions of shekels of other real estate, including four vacant lots.

An initial divorce settlement provided that the Atlit house would be sold and the proceeds split, but the house was never sold and Dankner agreed to cede his interest in the home to Vizen in return for the four lots that were in her name. He also agreed to pay the transfer taxes on the transfer of title on the lots. It is alleged, however, that Dankner asked Vizen to leave the lots in her name, purportedly in trust for him, to evade payment of the transfer taxes.

The Israel Lands Administration is also seeking to have the home in Atlit, where Vizen still lives, demolished, claiming it was illegally built on land leased from the ILA to Dankner and his Israel Salt Industries company.

The mansion, the ILA says, was built on a site of Salt Industries’ workers’ quarters, in violation of the terms of the lease.

Moti Kimche
Ofer Vaknin