Peres Pulls Out of Bank Hapoalim Deal After Public Criticism

Former president insists $30,000-a-month retainer was directed to public needs.

AP

Former President Shimon Peres said on Thursday he was pulling out of an agreement to help promote Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s biggest lender, after TheMarker’s disclosure this week of the contract provoked public criticism of the deal.

Peres announced his decision in an interview with Yonit Levy on Israel Channel 2 television last night. He also said he would not appear at a gala event the bank is holding on Tuesday at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

“I’m not profiting a cent because I’m not taking a penny of the money,” Peres told the interviewer about the contract.

“All the money would have gone to science, public needs, and I would have made sure of that. I wouldn’t do anything that hints of money. I’m surprised by all the questioning about this, I think it was true public service. I’m not a lobbyist at all.”

TheMarker reported this week that Peres, who capped a long career in Israeli politics with seven years as president, until 2014, had accepted a monthly retainer of $30,000 to represent Bank Hapoalim overseas by giving lectures and attending meetings. No time frame for the agreement was reported.

The April 28 event at the Museum of Natural History will celebrate the bank’s 40 years of operation in New York. Peres had been scheduled to attend three meetings with key Bank Hapoalim clients after the gala.