Inbal Or, the high-profile real estate developer facing a tax probe, saw her troubles mount on Monday as the police said they were opening a criminal investigation connected to allegations of fraud and theft of public funds. The investigation will also look into accusation of money laundering, fraudulent sales of apartments and other possible violations.
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Or, who built a real estate empire by organizing purchasing groups of homebuyers to develop residential projects, was arrested about six weeks ago by the Israel Tax Authority on suspicions of evading tens of millions of shekels in taxes through fictitious billing.
Meanwhile, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Eitan Orenstein is expected to rule on Tuesday whether her company, Or City Real Estate, should be liquidated following a stormy hearing. Or said she would raise the 800,000 shekels ($211,000) demanded by the court to be injected into the company from family members. (Jasmin Gueta and Raz Smolsky)
Bond issues show sharp drop in first quarter
In spite of record low interest rates, Israel’s corporate bond market continues to contract. Standard & Poor’s Israel said Monday that new issues by non-financial corporations fell to 6.8 billion shekels ($1.8 billion) in the first quarter, down 32% from a year ago and 22% from the fourth quarter of 2015. Only 27 companies issued new debt in the three months, down from 35 in fourth-quarter 2015 and among non-financial companies most of the bond sales were conducted by real estate companies, S&P said. In March alone, new bond sales amounted to just 2.3 billion shekels, 15% below the monthly average in the past year.
“The environment — low interest rates, high levels of institutional liquidity and declining government bond yields should benefit the new issues market but nevertheless we’re seeing very few issues by non-real estate corporates,” said Ronit Harel Ben Zeev, S&P’s CEO, adding that investment throughout the economy remains tepid. (Eran Azran)
Shares stem four-day losing streak
Tel Aviv shares turned higher Monday, snapping a four-session losing streak, on light trading. The benchmark TA-25 index ended 0.2% higher at 1,451.98 points, while the TA-100 gained 0.4% to 1,255.85, on turnover of just 980 million shekels ($259 million).
“The market is in a holding pattern. Investors are looking for the next trigger for setting short term direction,” said Idan Azoulay, CEO of Epsilon Mutual Funds, saying expectations for rate rises in the U.S. have receded. Elbit Systems rose 1.2% to 360.20, the latter after winning a $20 million contract. Insuline soared nearly 66% to 5.40 before the company announced it was seeking court approval to extend the term of its warrants to July 15 from May. (Shelly Appelberg)