Continental Brings in Help to Unravel Peled-Givony Saga

Bank Hapoalim subsidiary Israel Continental Bank has hired former antitrust commissioner Yoram Turbowicz to investigate the bank's entanglement in granting credit to the ill-fated Peled-Givony group. Turbowicz is a close associate of Hapoalim CEO Eli Yones and recently advised the bank on dismissing 793 staff members.

Continental Bank was ensnared in the collapse of the Peled-Givony pyramid after granting various companies a total of NIS 190 million in credit - 75 percent of the bank's equity - without, apparently, realising that all these companies were part of the same corporate group. As a result, when the Peled-Givony group collapsed, the bank made a NIS 124 million provision for doubtful debt and ended the year with a loss of NIS 111 million.

A report prepared last year indicated that Continental directors had not received information from senior executives regarding the relationship between the various companies or that the Peled-Givony group's legal counsel Tal Jaegerman had been behind each of the credit requests.

During the period in which the Peled-Givony companies got loans from Continental, former Bank Hapoalim CEO Amiram Sivan served as Continental chair. Sivan associate Danny Halperin served as director at Continental Bank and at some point was appointed chair at Hayl Holdings, a Peled-Givony company.

Noticeably at Continental's parent bank, Hapoalim, Sivan did not give Peled-Givony any credit.

Turbowicz's investigation is slated to examine the decision-making processes that led to the entanglement with the Peled-Givony group, and he is expected to present his conclusions to the board of directors headed by Moshe Amit. Amit is also a deputy CEO at Bank Hapoalim and was in charge of its business division under Sivan.