Israel Tax Authority Seeks to Force Eliezer Fishman Into Bankruptcy

The filing, in Tel Aviv District Court, was prompted by a 196-million-shekel ($51.5 million) unpaid tax bill from 2006.

Eliezer Fishman in 2009.
David Bachar

The Israel Tax Authority on Tuesday filed a court request seeking to have businessman Eliezer Fishman declared bankrupt and to have a special receiver appointed to manage his property.

The filing, in Tel Aviv District Court, was prompted by a 196-million-shekel ($51.5 million) unpaid tax bill from 2006.

Fishman has failed for some years to repay his debts to Israeli banks, as a result of a drop in the value of his assets in recent years. Up to now, the banks have refrained from seeking to have Fishman declared bankrupt in the hopes that they can make arrangements to recover a portion of what they are owed.

At the center of the Tax Authority’s request is the unpaid 2006 tax assessment against Fishman, which he had appealed claiming that he should be able to use capital losses to offset capital gains that he had after selling shares to satisfy other debt. The district court denied the appeal some 18 months ago, after which Fishman appealed to the Supreme Court. The high court agreed to stay the tax ruling on condition that Fishman make a 25-million-shekel tax payment by August 1 of last year. Fishman failed to do so. On Thursday, the high court turned down the appeal on its merits. Fishman’s lawyers did not provide a response for this story.

Fishman built a business empire that at one time consisted of a controlling interest in Jerusalem Economy, in addition to the Globes business daily, Home Center Israel, the Ten gas station chain and retailers Toys R Us, Zer4U, Celio and ID Design.