Israeli Police Enter Homes of French Jews Suspected of Money Laundering

Residents of upscale Herzliya Pituah are suspected of evading France's tax authorities by buying luxury homes in Israel.

Investigators from the Tax Authority and the police's anticorruption and economic crimes unit have entered luxury homes owned by French Jews suspected of tax evasion.

The move in Herzlyia Pituah last week followed a request by the French police, sent through Interpol, following an investigation by France's tax authorities. The French investigation led to suspicions that some French Jews had committed tax fraud and evasion in France involving massive sums. They are suspected of laundering the cash by buying luxury homes in Israel.

The operation was undertaken in accordance with a request for aid received as part of the cooperation between the Israel Police and law enforcement authorities abroad," the Israel Police said in a statement. "It was not part of an investigation conducted by the Israel Police.

In the third quarter of this year, prices of four-room homes in Tel Aviv reached an average NIS 2.66 million, 5% higher than in the previous three-month period and 6% higher than a year earlier - and beyond the reach of most home buyers. In Herzliya, prices rose 8% over the 12-month period to an average of NIS 1.93 million.

The Israeli authorities have long suspected that the rising real estate prices, for example in 2007, have been linked to Jews from abroad seeking tax havens.

Ofer Vaknin