Nochi Dankner and his associates submitted false evidence to the Tel Aviv District Court in an 11th-hour bid to block transfer of his IDB group to Moti Ben-Moshe and Argentinian businessman Eduardo Elsztain, an attorney representing Ben-Moshe’s company, Extra Holding, alleged on Sunday.
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At a news conference, Raanan Kalir, a lawyer for Extra, accused Dankner of submitting false evidence to the court six weeks ago when the latter entered what was alleged to be new evidence aimed at convincing Judge Eitan Orenstein to delay or reverse his decision awarding the conglomerate to the Elsztain-Ben-Moshe Group.
That evidence, Kalir said on Sunday, included a fabricated document and a false statement that Dankner used to support allegations that Extra Energy, a unit of Extra Holding, had avoided paying value-added tax in Germany, where the company is based. The material was made available to the German media as well as state attorneys, who rejected the evidence, Kalir said.
“Dankner and his lawyers lied to the authorities in Israel, to the court and to the media because they didn’t say that they were informed by the authorities in Germany stating that they would not be opening a criminal investigation since the evidence that [Dankner’s representatives] presented was inadequate,” Kalir told the news conference. Ben-Moshe himself was not present.
Among the allegedly false documents was a letter from the Austrian bank Meinl asserting that 10 million euros had been deposited with it in an account belonging to Ben-Moshe. But on Sunday, Kalir said Meinl confirmed in writing that Ben-Moshe had no account at the bank.
Saying the actions were punishable by up to nine years in prison, Kalir called on the prosecutor’s office to open a criminal investigation of Dankner, as well as of accountant Yehuda Bar-Lev and Avi Yanus of the private investigations firm Black Cube, whom he asserted were involved in the fraud.
Orenstein in January awarded control of IDB Holding Corporation, the company at the top of the group’s corporate pyramid, to the Elsztain-Ben-Moshe group as part of a bail-out arrangement for the indebted conglomerate. Dankner alleged that Ben-Moshe was involved in business improprieties, but a court-appointed investigation found no evidence to bar him from controlling IDB, whose businesses include Super-Sol, the country’s largest supermarket chain, and Cellcom, the cellular provider.
In response, Black Cube, which Dankner had hired to investigate Ben-Moshe, said it conducted all its investigations in strict conformity with the laws in the countries where it operates, whether in connection with its investigation of Extra Holding or other matters.
The law office of Shmulik Cassouto, which represents Dankner, stood by its evidence and asserted that Extra Holding replaces its auditors and controller every year, which it said hinted of improper financial reporting.
“The press conference is nothing more than an attempt by Ben-Moshe to intimidate and distract the public discussion of the only puzzle that is important to the Israeli public: Who is really behind the Extra group and what are the real sources of its money,” the firm said. “The threats and scare tactics will not prevent Dankner from bringing all the evidence for a truthful examination by the court.”
Cassouto said it had filed with the District Court on Sunday a letter from a former Extra auditor stating that he believed the financial reporting for the company to be defective, showing profits where there were in fact losses.
Tal Rabina, an Extra Holding spokesman, told the news conference that the company had been expecting Dankner to reveal that a new investigation against Extra and Ben-Moshe has been launched in Germany. But, he said, the German prosecutor’s office already has the documentation. Elsztain, Rabina added, was being kept abreast of developments.