No One Is Above the Law

There's no joy in seeing someone questioned on suspicions of criminal activity. There's certainly no joy when that someone is an admired and respected businessman like Eliezer Fishman, whom many people in the business sector look up to.

And still, Fishman's interrogation at the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) yesterday should be a source of pride and satisfaction - pride for the Israeli justice system, before which all are equal and no one is immune.

Fishman invested heavily in the Turkish lira. Some of these investments were made through Darban and Alliance Tire, two companies he controls and in which many of the public holds shares.

These shareholders were not informed of the lira investments until after it was too late, only after the lira had already collapsed and both companies sustained heavy losses.

The questions regarding the degree of proper disclosure made by Fishman regarding his investments in the Turkish lira are important, and they must be asked.

They have a direct impact on the principle of proper disclosure, which is a cornerstone of the capital market. But these questions are not easy to ask when they are being directed at one of Israel's most powerful businessmen.

In the United States there has never been any doubt about asking anyone suspected of a crime such questions, whatever the person's status.

That is why the U.S. is ranked very high on international indices of fairness and transparency. In the U.S., no one doubts that crime must be punished severely, because in the U.S. the law reigns supreme.

These two truths together are not self-evident in Israel. Here, the law is often taken as merely a recommendation.

Here in little Israel, where everybody knows everybody else, the full pursuit of justice against white-collar criminals is often in doubt.

The interrogation of Fishman and the ISA's insistence on getting to the bottom of the suspicions about his activities - and one can only hope that all these suspicions turn out to be baseless - are an important step in the direction of removing that doubt.