Deputy Bank Governor Courted for IDB Board Post While Still at Bank of Israel

The IDB group has regularly recruited former government regulatory officials as directors of the group, including former staff from the Israel Securities Authority.

Nochi Dankner's IDB group of companies tried to recruit Zvi Eckstein, deputy governor of the Bank of Israel, before he'd even moved on from the central bank, it turns out.

Eckstein, who served in the central bank position from 2006 to 2011, was said to have expressed interest in a potential position with IDB, though apparently no specific company name was brought up.

When the feelers were sent to him, Eckstein was still at the Bank of Israel, and could potentially have influence on decisions that could affect IDB.

All told, the sprawling IDB conglomerate has more than 100 directors, many of whom also sit on other corporate boards. Moreover, the IDB group has regularly recruited former government regulators as directors - including former staff from the Israel Securities Authority.

But evidence collected by Haaretz shows that, in this case, Eckstein was still formally a central bank official although, it bears noting, the Bank of Israel has no supervisory jurisdiction over IDB.

Eckstein left his post at the Bank of Israel on June 30, 2011. Earlier that month he spoke to Shlomo Reisman, a director of Koor Industries, an IDB group company, about serving on a corporate board after his departure from the central bank.

The evidence shows that on June 6, 2011, the two met in connection with unrelated business interests of Reisman, when the issue of board membership came up.

Last week Reisman told Haaretz that he asked Eckstein at the meeting if he would like to serve on the board of directors of a “good company.” Reisman said Eckstein expressed interest.

Haaretz received a copy of the resume that appears to have been sent by Eckstein’s office manager, on a Bank of Israel letterhead, to Reisman on June 16. Reisman purportedly then discussed the matter with Dankner and allegedly sent it to Ami Erel, a close associate of Dankner’s and president of Discount Investment Corporatio, an IDB group company.

Ultimately, Eckstein went into academia. He is now a potential candidate to succeed Stanley Fischer as governor of the Bank of Israel.

Reisman said his efforts were made in good faith for Eckstein as a friend. For his part Eckstein said he never sought to be an IDB group director either while he was at the Bank of Israel or afterward. He denied that he was a friend of Reisman’s, and said he had not spoken to him since their June 6 meeting in 2011. Eckstein said the meeting took place after repeated requests from Reisman.

The IDB group said in response that it receives dozens of proposals for appointments to IDB boards. In Eckstein’s case, no one from IDB, including Dankner or Erel, ever met with Eckstein about a possible director’s position either during his tenure at the Bank of Israel or afterward.

Tomer Neuberg