Fischer: We Had Information on Dankner's Activities

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said yesterday that he and the supervisor of banks, Rony Hizkiyahu, had information on problematic activities on the part of former Bank Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner before they decided to demand his resignation.

Fischer, speaking with Ilana Dayan on Army Radio, said he had information but refused to say whether the information was related to criminal or ethical violations. The Bank of Israel has refused to comment on the Dankner affair since the suspicions of criminal activity against Dankner became public.

Fischer said the situation after Dankner's ouster was very fragile because any mistake concerning Israel's second largest bank during the international financial crisis could have dented the public's faith in the stability of the banking system.

Fischer did not rule out that he would remain in Israel after he finishes his tenure as governor, but he declined to say if he would complete a second five-year term.

He said the thing he liked most about living in Israel was the social life, but he was still not sure he understood how the political game worked here.

Dankner is also suspected of submitting to Hapoalim an incorrect declaration of assets, which the bank used in 2008 as the basis for approving a NIS 12 million loan to its former chairman.

The police suspect that Dankner overstated the value of his assets by tens of millions of shekels. The bank used the asset statement to evaluate whether Dankner could pay back the loan and what collateral was necessary.

It seems Dankner may have listed his family's holdings in various investments, including Elran Investments, as belonging solely to him. It is not clear whether Hapoalim would have given Dankner such a loan if the report had been accurate.

The NIS 12 million loan would have represented approximately 60% of Dankner's net worth, based on various estimates, and it is unlikely whether Hapoalim would have granted even their chairman such a large loan under those circumstances.