Dankner Calls Witness Backing Fraud Claim Against New IDB Co-owner

Former head of IDB group believes witness will corroborate allegations against Moti Ben-Moshe, who won control of IDB in January.

In a bid to bolster fraud allegations levelled at Moti Ben-Moshe – one of two investors who won control of the IDB group some three months ago – Nochi Dankner is seeking to have a Belgian witness currently visiting Israel testify in support of the former IDB head's claims.

Dankner’s lawyers – Shmulik Cassouto, Guy Noff and Ronen Bar-On – yesterday asked the Tel Aviv District Court to enable Patrick de Pelsmaeker to testify as soon as possible, and before he returns to Belgium. They asserted that the Belgian had also undergone a lie detector test that supported his account, and that Ben-Moshe was unfairly trying to sully Dankner’s reputation, they said.

Dankner’s lawyers have said that de Pelsmaeker will testify that Ben-Moshe asked him to set up a network of straw companies, so that money could be transferred without it being linked to Ben-Moshe himself. The two were alleged to have been brought together by a French citizen with a criminal background.

Ben-Moshe’s spokesman, Tal Rabina, said his client would insist that de Pelsmaeker be questioned and explain to the court why he issued an affidavit based on a document purportedly issued by an Austrian bank, but which Rabina insists the bank says is forged.

The allegations come as Dankner fights a rearguard battle to reverse a court decision last December to transfer control of his IDB group to Ben-Moshe and Argentine businessman Eduardo Elsztain as part of a bailout plan for the indebted conglomerate. IDB controls some of Israel’s best-known companies, including food retailer Super-Sol and mobile operator Cellcom Israel.

Dankner unsuccessfully argued at the time that the sources of Ben-Moshe’s wealth were suspect and that a subsidiary of Ben-Moshe’s Extra Holdings, Extra Energy, was on the verge of collapse. Although he failed to convince the court, Dankner has continued his allegations.

Earlier this week, Ben-Moshe’s attorneys accused Dankner and the investigator he employed of submitting false documents to the court, among them an affidavit from de Pelsmaeker.

Tomer Appelbaum