Former Chairman of Top Israeli Bank Convicted of Fraud

Danny Dankner pleads guilty to reduced charges relating to misconduct during his time at the bank; agrees to pay fine of NIS 1 million, with additional sentencing to come.

Former Bank Hapoalim chairman Danny Dankner was convicted of fraud, corporate breach of trust, reckless misconduct in the management of a bank and two counts of deception on Thursday , after reaching a plea bargain with prosecutors.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop the most serious charges of money laundering and receiving goods through aggravated fraud, while Dankner agreed to pay a fine of NIS 1 million. Dankner did not speak during his appearance in the Tel Aviv District Court, beyond admitting to the charges in the amended indictment and accepting the plea bargain.

While the fine was accepted by the court as part of the plea bargain, it did not constitute the full sentence. The judge set the sentencing phase of the trial for November 20, to avoid interfering with separate legal proceedings against Dankner related to the Holyland real estate affair. Prosecutors said that they would seek a prison sentence for Dankner.

“At the end of the discussions, we reached a balanced, fitting and acceptable agreement,” said Dankner's defense attorney Navot Tel-Zur. ”We believe affixing a prison sentence isn't proportional in light of the amended indictment, so the arguments over punishment will be heard separately.”

The original indictment served against Dankner in 2012 listed four different cases in which there were suspicions of conflict of interest between Dankner’s personal affairs and his role at the bank. It alleged that Dankner had failed to reveal conflicts of interest to the directors and executives at Bank Hapoalim when the bank was dealing with his private business partners - and in fact recommended his partners to the bank. He was also accused of lying to senior bank officials in his personal declaration of wealth and of using a bank account in the name of his personal secretary for his own purposes.

Dankner served two stints as Bank Hapoalim's chairman between 1997 and 2009.

Ofer Vaknin