web analytics
August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘business’

2 Israelis Nabbed in US-Israel-Russia Securities Fraud Sting

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

The FBI linked with Israel Police organized crime unit 433 to uncover a securities fraud scheme that has spanned the globe via the Internet from the U.S. to Israel and all the way to Russia.

Authorities also discovered that the “pump and dump” scheme had a connection with last October’s massive cyber breach of JP Morgan Chase and other financial institutions.

“Pump and dump” is a stock fraud scheme in which promotional spam emails are sent to victims encouraging them to buy “hot” stocks. Perpetrators sell their own stocks and make millions on the deal.

Two Israelis — Gery Shalon, 31, and Ziv Orenstein, 40 — were charged in connection with the scheme. Joshua Samuel Aaron, 31, a U.S. national residing in Moscow and Tel Aviv, has not yet been arrested but is accused; he remains at large, officials said.

U.S. officials have requested extradition of the two Israelis and also permission to interrogate the pair following their arrest Tuesday at home. But the Israel state prosecutor planned to request permission to extend their remand in Israel at a hearing in Jerusalem District Court today (Wednesday, July 22) in order to allow time for Israel Police to question them as well.

According to the indictment, Shalon and Orenstein were also charged with running an unlicensed BitCoin exchange, Coin.Mx.

U.S. nationals Anthony Murgio and Yuri Lebedev were taken into custody in Florida, according to U.S. District Attorney for Southern New York Diego Rodriguez. Murgio and Lebedev were charged with “knowingly [exchanging] cash for people whom they believed may be engaging in criminal activity.”

At least some of the men met more than a decade ago while attending Florida State University, Bloomberg News reported.

There was no mention in the indictment of any connection with last October’s massive cyber theft of data from JP Morgan Chase, Fidelity Investments Ltd. and E*Trade Financial Corp. Some 83 million accounts were compromised in that breach, which affected accounts in 76 million households and seven million small businesses.

However, a source close to the case told Bloomberg News the FBI believes data stolen in the JP Morgan Chase hack may have been sought for promoting stocks through a massive spam campaign in the “pump and dump” scheme.

Murgio and Lebedev were also charged with using the bitcoins to purchase ransomware – a type of malware – and of using a fictitious organization (Collectible Club) to gain “beneficial control” over a small New Jersey-based credit union. The suspects allegedly used Collectible Club to “trick the major financial institutions through which they operated into believing their unlawful BitCoin exchange business was simply a members-only association of individuals who discussed, bought, and sold collectible items such as sports memorabilia.”

According to an affidavit submitted by FBI Special Agent Joey DeCapu, “the credit union normally handled the modest banking needs of a small group of primarily low-income residents and had little or no experience with the business of ACH processing.” Red flags were raised when the National Credit Union Association noticed the bank was processing more than $30 million a month in ACH transactions through the Credit Union account. NCUA put a stop to the processing and forced the removal of the new board members.

F.A.O. Schwarz Closing Flagship July 15 on NYC’s Fifth Avenue

Monday, July 6th, 2015

It’s the end of an era.

F.A.O. Schwarz on New York City’s Fifth Avenue is closing its doors because rising rent prices have finally exceeded even the fiscal ability of this iconic tribute to childish fantasies.

The brand itself will not die, according to Toys R Us, which bought out F.A.O. Schwarz in 2009.

However, the corporation has yet to find a new location for the toy store, hopefully a process that won’t take too long.

“In working with the property owner, the company was able to agree on an early exit in advance of the 2017 lease expiration, providing the opportunity to realize meaningful rent savings,” the company explained in a statement on its website. “As a result, we plan to formally close the Fifth Avenue location on Wednesday, July 15.

“The decision to vacate this space is due to the continuing rising costs of operating a retail location on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The company is committed to the FAO Schwarz brand and growing its legacy. In fact, it is actively searching for another location in midtown Manhattan where FAO Schwarz can welcome shoppers from around the world.”

It seems, however, that wherever that may be, it will be a somewhat smaller operation, according to the company’s statement.

“The company is working diligently to place as many full- and part-time team members as possible at Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us locations in the greater New York/New Jersey area.”

The New York City flagship store on Fifth Avenue has for decades been a “must-see” stop on the tourist route in the Big Apple for visitors from around the world.

Israel Follows US Lead on Hunting Citizens’ Foreign Assets

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Israelis who have not filled out forms for declaring their assets to the Israel Tax Authority and have unreported overseas bank accounts are being targeted, Globes reports, in ways mirroring the methods of the IRS and U.S. Treasury.

In an agreement reached between Israel’s Finance Ministry and the United States more than a year ago, the Israel Tax Authority agreed to report the accounts of U.S. citizens in Israel to the IRS. In exchange, the IRS agreed it “may” report on income in the accounts of Israelis in the United States.

The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) for “improving global tax enforcement” requires banks in dozens of foreign countries to collect and share private financial information about millions of Americans living and working outside the U.S.

Tens of thousands of Americans who came on aliyah fall into this category, and have since been warned by their banks they must fill out an annual IRS W-9 and “FBAR” (Foreign Bank Account Report.)

“The U.S. sent a delegation here, which examined our systems and information security and was very impressed,” said Israel Tax Authority head Moshe Asher in a speech this week to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP.)

Asher told participants at a business conference this week to expect more arrests of Israelis with unreported overseas assets.

According to the Tax Authority, there are Israelis who are holding an estimated NIS 50 billion in concealed capital in unreported accounts around the world. And after starting a war on illegal capital, Asher commented that the Tax Authority has already raised income tax revenue by NIS 3.5 billion over projected forecasts since the beginning of the year.

“Switzerland was once the world’s safe deposit box from which no information could be extracted,” Asher said.

But, “they have been forthcoming recently, even if in contravention of Swiss law… Inroads have been made in Swiss banking confidentiality – it’s like any other country now, subject to conventions and obligated to provide information.

“Secrecy is over: the world has become more transparent and much smaller… This is the time to come and make an arrangement for unreported capital, because the tax authorities will find it.”

Barak Invests $1 Million in Firm Linked to Military-Industrial Complex [video]

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Published on Jewish Business News
by Ilan Shavit

The start-up Reporty Homeland Security Ltd has taken a $1 million investment from Israeli former prime minister, former defense minister, and former IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak.

Reporty is developing a platform to transmit real-time emergency reports. The company says the investment is designed to accelerate the development, recruitment and continued distribution in 911-type agencies worldwide.

Founded in 2014, the company is well-connected within Israel’s military industrial complex and the politicians that receive their flowers via FTD: there’s CEO Amir Elihai, a former special forces officer, as was Barak. He has worked 10 years in security organizations and has extensive experience in venture capital in Israel; and Pinchas Bukhris, former defense ministry director general and former commander of the IDF cyber unit 8200, now a director at Reporty. Ehud Barak said in a Reporty press release statement: “Reporty provides an answer to the essential need of every citizen – a sense of security, based on immediate and easy access to emergency services, including municipalities, hospitals, airports, Police, Fire and Rescue, etc. “Reporty will provide a platform for control and reporting, including large masses while protecting the privacy of each citizen.” Each year emergency services in Israel and around the world receive hundreds of millions of calls, goes Reporty’s raison d’etre. The average conversation time is from two and three and a half minutes, during which the operator must quickly assess credibility of the report, the event’s location, and what resources are available for use. Despite the long time spent delineating the relevant information for decision-making, various organizations still report that between 20 and 30 percent of their calls turn out to be false alarms. Another critical aspect is the speed of detecting the location of the caller. In the US alone, about 10,000 people die annually due to authorities’ failure to identify the locations of reported emergencies.

Report aims to change the scene when it comes to communication between the reporting caller and the various authorities, by streamlining the process of reporting and receiving, saving on expenses, and, more importantly, saving lives. The new application works through a broadcast video in real time, which, with the click of a button, transmits two-way video and audio to the appropriate emergency center, including accurate data about the location and the report’s degree of credibility.

This article was written by Ilan Shavit

China and Israel Sharing Market Opportunities

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

One of Israel’s most influential business conferences, the 12th Go4Israel Conference was held this week on Tuesday, October 27th at the Hilton Tel Aviv, and placed particular attention on China. Over 1,000 participants took part in the conference including international and local entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders.

“The conference reflects Israel’s role in bringing the world’s West and East economies together. With an increasing presence of China in Israel’s business scene, we can help enhance global relationships between investors and entrepreneurs, mainly from Europe, China and Israel,” said the French-born Edouard Cukierman, the chairman and founder of Cukierman & Co. Investment House, which organized the conference along with its private equity fund, Catalyst Fund. Cukierman & Co. Investment House Ltd. heads Israel’s largest investment team and has been involved for the past 20 years in raising €4 billion in transactions, much of it for Israeli startups and mature companies.

“Israel has always been the center of attraction for investors and entrepreneurs from around the world,” Cukierman added.

Hong Kong property tycoon Ronnie Chan agrees. Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, received the Go4Israel achievement prize at this year’s Go4Israel conference in honor of his contribution to strengthening the business and political relationship between China and Israel.

“Israel is at the center of the world,” Chan told Tazpit News Agency. “Geographically and historically, this region has always been at the center,” he told Tazpit.

Chan, a devout Christian, has been visiting Israel frequently in the past 36 years and has brought many delegations of major Chinese business leaders and entrepreneurs to introduce to Israeli high-tech companies.

A featured speaker at the conference and one of the participants in the Go4China panel, Chan spoke of what initially sparked China’s interest in Israel. “Chinese businessmen are intrigued by Israel, both Christians and atheists. The book, Start-Up Nation, was read widely throughout China and really did a lot for Israel,” Chan said during a panel discussion about the rise of China in Israel’s business agenda.

According to Cukierman, China has acquired $7 billion in Israeli assets in the past three years.

This year alone, the Chinese equity-investment management and financial-services company, Yongjin Group Inc., has invested between $15 million and $20 million into Israel’s Pitango Venture Capital. In late August, Chinese computer maker, Lenovo Group Ltd. invested $10 million in venture fund Canaan Partner Israel, affiliated with the American-based Canaan Partners. Ping An Venture has made six investments in Israeli startups, following the creation of a $100 million fund dedicated to U.S. and Israel tech venture. Ping An Venture also invested in a new fund set up by Israel’s Carmel Ventures capital firm, as did Chinese Internet search engine, Baidu,

“We are firm believers of combining two market places – China and Israel, together,” said Shengyan Fan, the managing partner of the Catalyst CEL Fund, a joint venture between China Everbright Limited and Cuckierman, during the panel discussion. “I’m really happy to be here – I’ve been to Israel many times in the last two years and look forward to achieving mutual goals together,” she said.

Other panel discussions dealt with the place of Europe in Israel’s business agenda, opportunities and risks in the global and local real estate market, and the image of Israel abroad.

Chan related that during the past summer war, a Chinese delegation of businessmen had visited Israel. “Even with Hamas firing rockets, not one member of the delegation wanted to leave,” said Chan. “They were too intrigued by Israel. These businessmen have become Israel’s friends for life now.”

Gasoline Prices Dropped at Midnight

Monday, September 1st, 2014

The price of gasoline in Israel dropped by a symbolic amount on Sunday at midnight — by one agora per liter for self-service 95 octane.

The price for the gasoline went from NIS 7.40 to Nis 7.39 per liter, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources announced. All other prices were unchanged.

Summer of War: The Cost of the Conflict on Israel

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The nearly two-month-long conflict with Hamas that has taken an economic toll on Israel, In addition to the military expenditures from Operation Protective Edge, physical damage to commercial facilities and the financial impact on industries such as retail and tourism have dragged the country into an economic slump, while the psychological cost on the children growing up in the south will take years to assess.

Nearly 3,000 claims for damage have been submitted to the Israel Tax Authority, which has so far paid some $20 million for direct damages and another $21 million for missed work days and other indirect damage. According to existing laws, workers in businesses located within 40 kilometers from the Gaza border get paid for the days they are absent from work, and their employers are eligible for full compensation from the government for these wages.

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism reports that tourism for July dropped by 26 percent from the same period last year. The sector, comprising about 7 percent of the Israeli economy, has lost at least $566 million, according to the figures.

The hardest-hit from the ongoing war are the businesses in the south of the country, which has sustained the bulk of the rocket fire from Hamas. Stores and restaurants have suffered from a drop in sales, while manufacturing facilities close to the Gaza border have been impacted by slowdowns in manufacturing due to incessant rocket alerts.

Israel’s Manufacturers Association estimated the total economic impact on Israeli manufacturers for the first round of the conflict at about 1.2 billion shekels, with factories in the south accounting for 40 percent of this figure, and facilities in Haifa and the center of the country incurring half the losses.

The agricultural sector has also experienced significant physical damage from the falling projectiles. Since the Iron Dome system is only activated when there is a projectile headed for a built-up area, thousands of rockets and mortars have landed in open fields, many of them belonging to farms. In addition to crop damage, there have been a number of incidents of injury and death of cattle, chickens and other livestock as a result of rocket impacts.

In an effort to assist businesses hurt by the conflict, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau proposed a tax exemption to Gaza-adjacent communities in the south. The move would be part of a comprehensive aid package consisting of tax breaks as well as reparations.

The latest war with Hamas came at a time when the Israeli economy was already in a slowdown, with a strong shekel decreasing exports and growth for the second quarter of 2014 falling to 1.7 percent from 2.8 percent in the first quarter. In response, the Bank of Israel decided on July 28 to cut its benchmark interest rate to a five-year low of 0.5 percent.

“We assess that economic activity is experiencing a sort of contraction, that began before the start of the Gaza operation,” the bank said Aug. 18. “This contraction will worsen in the current quarter, although some degree of rebound can be expected as soon as the hostilities cease.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/summer-of-war-the-cost-of-the-conflict-on-israel/2014/08/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: