Shelly Yacimovich Urges Leumi Clients to Withdraw Their Money

On Army Radio, the opposition leader called for a public protest. A planned consumer boycott and upcoming demonstration at the bank's offices have attracted over 3000 participants online.

Opposition leader MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) urged clients of Bank Leumi to leave the bank if it forgives businessman Nochi Dankner’s debt.

“I call upon major and minor clients to inform Bank Leumi that if it indeed intends to forgive Nochi Dankner’s debt and thereby damage the bank and the bank’s security cushion, they will withdraw their accounts from the bank,” she said yesterday evening in a live broadcast on Army Radio. “A pubic protest could call the bank and its conduct to order.”

In a letter to the Supervisor of Banks Dudu Zaken, Yacimovich wrote, “It appears that Bank Leumi CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach intends to forgive Nochi Dankner’s debt to the bank. I ask that you act to the full  extent of your powers to prevent this scandalous decision, which exudes a strong smell of favoring cronies, and that no private individual or small or medium-sized business owner would have been granted except in his dreams.”

Dankner owes nearly NIS 1 billion to banks through his private companies, Yacimovich wrote to Zaken, asserting that “the bank’s decision to forgive the debt must be seen as a dangerous precedent of an irresponsible credit policy.”

Yacimovich added that accountant Gad Somekh is the auditor of both Dankner’s IDB group and of Bank Leumi (as well as of most of the other banks in Israel), and IDB owes him money.

“This anomalous duality breeds real suspicion that this is preventing him from properly auditing the financial and stability risks inherent in the Leumi CEO’s decision to forgive the debts of clients he audits," she wrote. "I expect, after repeated requests to you in this matter, your detailed response to this issue as well as instructions that will lead to the dismantling of the centralization in the area.”

Attorney Eldad Yaniv has opened a Facebook page called (in Hebrew) “Bank Leumi – consumer boycott,” which calls for a demonstration on Monday across from the main offices of Bank Leumi in Tel Aviv. So far more than 3,000 people have confirmed their participation.

“We have embarked on a struggle against the latest haircut,” Yaniv told TheMarker. “The forgiving of this debt isn’t going to happen. The planned demonstration is only the beginning. The protest will not stop until the decision (to forgive Dankner’s debt) is halted and it is clear that no more debts are being forgiven to tycoons.

"People like Riki Cohen,” he said, referring to the fictional middle-class citizen dreamed up by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, “have to negotiate with the bank and pay their debts. There is no way the banks’ lawyers and the Bailiff’s Office will bill Riki Cohen while Nochi Dankner’s debts are forgiven. There is no more picking and choosing.”

The plan to demonstrate at Bank Leumi has made waves on the Internet.

“There’s no need for meetings or whatever," wrote Gilad Rosin. "I am going to leave the bank if this happens and another half a million people have to do so too. Enough talk. Spread the word.”

“It's possible to pose an ultimatum to the bank that if it doesn’t change its mind we will begin to take our money out – every day X shekels, say 5% of the account," Liat Hanoch proposed. "The bank will freak out because it holds cash balances of 10%. The bank might very quickly go bankrupt.”

“I'm sorry I'm not at this bank, if only for the pleasure of canceling my account on the grounds that the bank and the executives are corrupt," wrote Tal Buhbut. "In fact, I feel like transferring to Bank Leumi now only to close the account and add a bit of shit to the statistics.”

Ofer Vaknin