June 16, 2021

Police recommend indicting Israel’s richest woman

Police and Israel Security Authority said on Sunday they have enough evidence of wrongdoing to recommend corruption charges against executives of Israel’s largest construction company, including its former president, billionaire Shari. Arison.

The Lahav 433 Special Investigation Unit completed a year-long investigation into a multi-million shekel corruption case where the Shikun & Binui company paid public officials in several African countries to land lucrative contracts of construction.

“There is substantial evidence against the Shikun & Binui company, and against a number of high-ranking employees,” police said in a statement.

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Arison, who sold his controlling stake in Shikun & Binui last year, was one of 50 company executives questioned by police in the case. The main investigation focuses on Kenya with the cooperation of the country’s national anti-corruption unit.

The offices of the Israel Police Unit Lahav 433. (Israeli police)

Last August, Arison was questioned by police for nine hours about her involvement in the case. Arison and one of his close advisers have been released but are prohibited from leaving the country or contacting anyone in connection with the investigation.

Shikun & Binui achieved $ 1.8 billion in business in 2018 and has 9,700 employees who are building major projects in Israel and abroad. Police said on Sunday they heard from 34 witnesses in the international investigation.

The suspicions are of great magnitude and involve “the bribery of foreign officials, the falsification of company documents, conspiracy to commit a crime, obstruction of legal procedures, prohibition of money laundering and crimes of misinformation with the aim of deceiving a reasonable investor under the Securities Act, ”the police said in a statement.

The bribes were so big that police said company officials couldn’t ignore what was going on, Channel 12 News reported.

Arison’s 2018 interrogation came just two months after she sold her controlling stake in US-Israeli real estate investor Naty Saidoff for NIS 1.1 billion ($ 307 million), a price 14% lower than the value of the shares, which traders attributed to suspicion of corruption.

Arison, who had held shares in Shikun & Binui for 22 years prior to the sale, said his move was part of a strategy to diversify investments around the world. Still, the construction company’s shares fell almost 23% in the 12 months before it sold them, as the company was mired in the corruption investigation.

Police said the case will now be referred to the Attorney General’s Office for analysis and to decide whether or not to prosecute.