Graft Probe of Israel's SBI Infrastructure Expands to Guatemala

Housing & Construction reported that local investigators visited its subsidiary SBI Infrastructure to question the company’s past activities in Guatemala

Shari Arison,the richest woman in Israel, poses for a photo during an interview with the Associate Press in her office in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Ariel Schalit/AP Photo

Housing & Construction reported to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Wednesday that local investigators had visited the offices of its subsidiary SBI Infrastructure in Central America the day before.

The officials collected evidence for a local investigation tied to the company’s past activities in Guatemala. Thus, the investigation into corruption at SBI Infrastructure has spread from Africa to Central America. Both the World Bank and the Israel Police have investigated SBI Infrastructure on suspicion the company bribed officials in Kenya and other African states to win major infrastructure contracts.

Last week police questioned controlling shareholder Shari Arison and Arison Investments CEO Efrat Peled. The announcement came just a day after SBI Infrastructure announced it had won a $220 million contract for a Nigerian project to restore, pave and expand the highway connecting the cities of Shagamu and Ibadan.

In February Housing & Construction said four current and former employees of SBI had been detained for questioning by Israeli police on suspicion of bribery in Africa.

Housing & Construction said at the time that SBI was conducting its own examination using an independent firm from abroad. It said it was not yet able to assess the accuracy of the allegations.

Housing and Construction shares were up 1.6% in afternoon trading Wednesday.