Tax Probe Targets Israelis With Foreign Bank Accounts

Principal source of information for Israel Tax Authority probe comes from someone who obtained information from foreign tax authorities and handed it over to Israeli officials.

Israel Tax Authority offices in Jerusalem.
Lior Mizrahi

A gag order is expected to be lifted in the next few days on a major investigation of tax evasion by scores of Israelis holding bank accounts abroad, TheMarker has learned.

The principal source of information for the probe by the Israel Tax Authority apparently comes from someone who obtained information from foreign tax authorities and handed it over to Israeli officials, but no further details are know at this point.

Moshe Asher, the director of the authority, told TheMarker yesterday that he declined to comment on any investigation. All he was prepared to say was that “the Tax Authority is examining right now lists of foreign bank accounts that were provided it.”

Asher said officials estimate that tens of billions of dollars in unreported capital is held abroad by Israelis, some of which he expects to be reported as part of the new program guaranteeing those who voluntarily come clear the cloak of anonymity while they negotiate a settlement.

As part of the pressure tactics the authority is using, Asher noted in an interview with TheMarker that Israel had stepped up the exchange of information with a host of foreign countries’ tax authorities. As a result, he and private-sector tax experts said they expected the new procedure to yield good results.

“I work with a lot of clients who are feeling the pressure and don’t feel they can behave freely – and for good reason,” said Ziv Neufeld, a partner in the law firm Naschitz Brandes Amir.