Israeli Pop Star Gets 2-year Prison Sentence for Tax Evasion

Judge says Kobi Peretz was motivated by 'pure greed,' but noted his long record of helping those in need.

Kobi Peretz in court.
Ofer Vaknin

A well-known singer convicted of massive tax evasion was sentenced to two years in prison on Monday.

Kobi Peretz, who was convicted in March of concealing five million shekels ($1.3 million) in income by means of fictitious invoices, was also given a suspended sentence and a fine of 175,000 shekels. He will start serving his sentence on June 30.

Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Limor Margolin-Yehidi said the sentence reflected her conclusion that “all the crimes were committed due to the defendant’s desire not to pay taxes legally on his income, to fraudulently report only a small fraction of his income and to conceal the rest. This was an educated, considered and conscious decision These acts were committed for financial benefit, out of pure greed, and they require significant financial punishment that will eliminate the benefit of committing such acts.”

She noted that Peretz was the sole beneficiary of his crimes; manager, Yochai Yaish, received no financial benefits from the assistance he gave Peretz other than those produced by their professional relationship.

Margolin-Yehidi also cited Peretz’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crime and the fact aside from a small sum found in his safe, most of his tax arrears remain unpaid, as “he did not see fit to return what he stole during all the years that passed.” On the other hand, she noted, he has no criminal record, and does have a long record of helping others.

“I was impressed by what the defendant did for others, dedicatedly, over time, putting the needs of other high in his order of priorities,” she wrote. “This isn’t a trivial matter.”

Nevertheless, she added, his massive tax evasion reduced the amount of government funding available to aid needy and disabled people, “the very people the defendant contributes to and assists.”

Peretz’s attorneys said he would appeal both the conviction and the sentence.