AG Seeks to Wrap Up Probe Into Frenkel's Duty-free Mishap

Weinstein has declared that there would be no problem choosing Frenkel as Bank of Israel governor again, even though this would be his third term and the law limits governors to two terms.

Hila Raz
Hila Raz

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is seeking to wrap up the investigation into Jacob Frenkel’s candidacy for governor of the Bank of Israel.

The probe began after it came to light that when submitting his candidacy, Frenkel had omitted mention of a 2006 detention at the Hong Kong airport on suspicion of shoplifting.

The state prosecution’s international division is trying to determine what exactly happened at the airport.

Frenkel allegedly was detained because he had an expensive garment bag from the duty free shop that had not been paid for.

The prosecutors are looking into the statement by Frenkel’s attorney Sharon Ser, who submitted a letter to the Turkel committee that vets senior government appointments. Ser stated that Frenkel had been handed the bag by his traveling companion, and that he thought it had already been paid for.

Ser also said that Hong Kong’s Department of Justice had apologized to Frenkel and thanked him for not demanding compensation over the affair.

Frenkel served as Israel’s central bank governor from 1991 to 2000 and kept his diplomatic passport afterward.

Weinstein apparently wants to make a decision in the case within the next few days, even if this means working with partial information. If that happens, then Frenkel’s candidacy may be approved and anyone who takes issue with the decision would be the one bearing the burden of proof. In that event, the case could wind up in the High Court of Justice.

If the prosecution substantiates Frenkel’s version − that this was an insignificant affair − then most likely there will be nothing preventing the Turkel committee from approving Frenkel’s candidacy. However, if it turns out to have been a more serious affair − one significant enough that Frenkel was required to report it to the Turkel committee − Weinstein probably will not be able to give Frenkel’s candidacy his stamp of approval.

Israel’s prosecution is trying to determine how legally significant the Hong Kong affair was. Investigators have contacted the Hong Kong prosecution, police and other officials in a bid for information about the affair. Investigators want to know whether Frenkel was questioned by authorities in Hong Kong, and if so, by whom. They also want to know what actions were taken, if any.

If an investigation was opened, they want to know on what grounds it was closed; if it wasn’t opened, they want to know why.

Weinstein previously declared that there would be no problem choosing Frenkel as Bank of Israel governor again, even though this would be his third term and the law limits governors to two terms.

Jacob Frenkel in Jerusalem, June 19, 2013.Credit: Emil Salman

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