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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘money laundering’

Former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Fuad Ben-Eliezer Dies at Age 80

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

by Ilana Messika
Veteran Israeli politician and IDF officer Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer died today at the age of 80 at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center due to complications of kidney disease.

“Fuad served the State of Israel for decades. He did so as a fighter, as a commander, as a public figure, and as a senior minister. I knew him and appreciated his contribution and remarkable character.”said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Many conversations with Fuad showed his concern and commitment to the future of the country that he loved so much. May he rest in peace,” he concluded.

Ben-Eliezer, born in Basra under the name Fuad, emigrated to Israel from Iraq with his family in 1950. Upon arriving in Israel, he adopted the Hebrew name Binyamin and joined the IDF, where he had a long and illustrious career.

He served in the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War before being appointed Commanding Officer in Southern Lebanon in 1977, as the IDF liaison between Israel and the Christians of Lebanon.

From 1983 to 1984, he served as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, charged with the responsibility of implementing the government’s civilian policy in Judea and Samaria and vis-a-vis the Gaza Strip.

Fuad Ben-Eliezer was also a 30-year veteran of Israeli politics. Elected in 1984 on the Yahad list, he served in the Knesset until 2014 as part of the Alignment party, which later became Labor.

In 1994, as part of his tenure as minister of construction and housing, he was sent by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as the first Israeli minister to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Following the establishment of a national unity government in 2001 led by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, Ben-Eliezer assumed the post of defense minister until he resigned in 2002 when Labor left the coalition.

In response to the second intifada, he was a central proponent of Operation Defensive Shield, the first large-scale military operation to be carried out in Judea and Samaria since the Six-Day War, He continued on to serve in various ministerial positions in the 2003, 2006, and 2009 Labor governments.

Four days prior to the Knesset vote to elect a new president in June 2014, Ben-Eliezer withdrew his candidacy for the position due to a police probe on suspicions of illegal gambling and bribes which he had allegedly received during his years in office. He officially resigned from office in December, 2014 due to health issues and to focus on clearing his name.

Opposition Chairman and Zionist Union MK Isaac Herzog related, “I had recently conducted many conversations with Fuad about the cloud that surrounded him at the end of his life and he repeatedly insisted he was innocent.

“He was a fearless fighter and a Labor party leader who died surrounded by many admirers and friends,” Herzog concluded.

Ben-Eliezer died while his reputation was still shrouded in suspicion following a six-month police investigation. He was indicted by the Israeli attorney general in December 2015 along with 10 other suspects for accepting bribes amounting to more than $500,000 as well as money laundering, breach of trust, fraud and tax offenses.

Ben-Eliezer suffered from a severe kidney disease for which he was previously rushed to the Assaf HaRofeh hospital in Tel Aviv in serious condition, prior to his transfer to Sourasky Medical Center.

“The Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the Israeli National Transplant Center would like to thank the family of Binyamin Ben-Eliezer for agreeing to donate the deceased’s corneas for transplant purposes.” stated Ichilov Hospital.

Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer is survived by his wife and five children. Baruch Dayan Emet.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Haredi Party Spearheading Effort to Protect Israeli Religious Charities from US Tax Authorities

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

The heads of charity organizations in the ultra-Orthodox society, commonly known as Gemachim, received at least a temporary measure of relief from the Knesset Finance Committee, chaired by MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), ahead of a new amendment of the Income Tax Act that takes effect in September and compels Israeli financial institutions to report through the local tax authorities on the Israeli financial affairs of US citizens. The amendment is the result of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA) agreement between Israel and the US, which was a prerequisite for continued cooperation between Israeli and American financial institutions.

It’s not much, but MK Gafni demanded that the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel order the banks to give the Gemachim time until the end of June to resolve their status as public institutions, which he hopes would allow them to exclude themselves from the FATCA rules. Gafni envisions a tweaking of the amendment to exclude groups with deposits of less than $50 thousand, or holdings worth less than $50 million.

According to Chairman Gafni, the new regulations could bring the collapse of the Gemachim. “The Israeli government signed an agreement with the US government without considering the disastrous consequences for one of the most important enterprises of the Jewish people that has existed for millennia — the charity and mutual aid societies,” Gafni said, explaining that the Gemachim are “the only means at the disposal of a person under financial duress to receive an interest-free loan to get back on his feet.”

MK Israel Eichler (UTJ), Chairman of the Public Petitions, summoned Dr. Ilan Steiner, Director of the Bank of Israel Currency Department, to his committee hearing, to warn him against another aspect of the US attack on these charity institutions. According to Eichler, banks are being forced under pressure from foreign governments to close the accounts of Gemachim accounts, “in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ and stopping money laundering, the IRS and the American government have become supervisors of all bank accounts around the world including in Israel. Everyone has to go through their inspection, so the Gemachim have received a letter that they will not be able to keep their bank accounts anymore.”

MK Eichler told Dr. Steiner: “I hope that the Bank of Israel find a way to abide by the agreements with the US while not mixing up the Gemachim with the war on terror. The banks must not become a burden and a restriction on associations and charity organizations who want to help people and do not engage in terrorism. There are limits to the madness of the banking system. We must not allow the charity organizations and Gemachim to be paralyzed by American pressures.”

The issues of compliance regarding money laundering and the war on terror stem from the side benefits of an IRS act that was intended to make sure US citizens who make money abroad share some of it with Uncle Sam. According to the IRS, FATCA targets tax non-compliance by US taxpayers with foreign accounts, focusing on individuals’ reporting about foreign financial accounts and offshore assets, as well as by foreign financial institutions about financial accounts held by US taxpayers or foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.

Using the US’ enormous economic clout, FATCA bullies the world’s financial institutions into reporting on their American clients to Uncle Sam. Under FATCA, to avoid being withheld upon, foreign financial institutions must register with the IRS and agree to report to the IRS about their US accounts, including accounts of foreign entities with a substantial US ownership. Foreign institutions that enter into an agreement with the IRS to report on their account holders may be required to withhold 30% on certain payments to foreign payees if such payees do not comply with FATCA.

Talk about working for the Yankee dollar.

According to The Marker, Gemachim stand to suffer three different ways from the new law: instead of permitting a Gemach to transfer money into their accounts, they could now be questioned regarding the source of the funds and whether or not tax was paid on them in the US; each deposit could be subject to harassment by the bank, in order to verify that it is not part of a money laundering scheme; and the Gemach could be saddled with a new definition as a financial institution, and as such would be compelled to report on its fund sources to the IRS or face criminal sanctions.

JNi.Media

Former DM Binyamin ‘Fuad’ Ben-Eliezer,80 Hospitalized

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, 80, was rushed to Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin late Saturday night after he complained of feeling pain, according to Galei Tzahal Army Radio.

Ben-Eliezer, who has been in poor health for years, was held overnight for observation and additional tests, doctors said. They added that he was fully conscious and he is in stable condition.

He underwent a kidney transplant in December 2014 and was back in the hospital again last year with a serious case of influenze that required the use of life support.

The former minister spent 30 years as a leader in the Labor Party. He was indicted in absentia in Tel Aviv District Court last month on various charges of corruption, including breach of public trust, tax offenses, fraud and money laundering. His attorney appeared on his behalf to deny all the charges, Israel Radio reported.

Hana Levi Julian

Hezbollah Terror Cell Busted by US Drug Enforcement Administration

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

A Hezbollah terrorist cell in Europe has been arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Lebanon-based terrorist organization has established business relationships with a number of drug cartels in South America, according to DEA acting deputy administrator Jack Riley.

“These drug trafficking and money laundering schemes utilized by the Business Affairs Component [of Hezbollah] provide a revenue and weapons stream for an international terrorist organization responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world,” he said.

Members of the Lebanon-based terror organization have previously been accused of using drug sales as a means of funding the group’s operations.

Hezbollah is accused of using the profits from the sale of cocaine in the United States and Europe to fund arms purchases for military use in Syria, according to the DEA.

Mohamad Noureddine, a “Lebanese money launderer,” was described by the DEA as working directly with Hezbollah to transfer its money via his Lebanon-based firm, Trade Point International S.A.R.L. The firm “maintained direct ties to Hezbollah commercial and terrorist elements in both Lebanon and in Iraq,” according to the DEA.

Last week, sanctions were imposed against Hezbollah by the U.S. Treasury Department targeting its money launderers Noureddine and Hamdi Zaher El Dine, as well as Trade Point International S.A.R.L.

“Hezbollah needs individuals like Mohamad Noureddine and Hamdi Zaher El Dine to launder criminal proceeds for use in terrorism and political destabilization, Adam J. Szubin, the acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence said.

“We will continue to target this vulnerability, and expose and disrupt such enablers of terrorism wherever we find them.”

The “ongoing investigation spans the globe and involves numerous international law enforcement agencies in seven countries, and once again highlights the dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism,” the U.S. agency said in a statement on Monday.

“DEA and our international partners are relentless in our commitment to disrupt any attempt by terrorists and terrorist organizations to leverage the drug trade against our nations,” Riley said. “DEA and our partners will continue to dismantle networks who exploit the nexus between drugs and terror using all available law enforcement mechanisms.”

Hana Levi Julian

Report: Bank Leumi to Pay NIS 1 Billion in Fines to US for Suspected Money Laundering

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

According to a report that appeared in the Israeli Channel 2 news site Mako, Bank Leumi will be required to pay NIS 1 billion in fines to the US for suspected money laundering at its American branches.

The claim is that the US branches may have made transactions on American client’s accounts in the US branches, but not all taxes were paid as required by law.

The bank’s directors held a special meeting yesterday to agree to a compromise agreement with the US government, and pay the fine.

Banks not just in Israel but around the world are also under investigation by the US government for suspected money laundering, in violation of new US laws.

Credit Suisse was recently fined $2.5 Billion USD.

The Mako report states that Mizrachi-Tefachot and Poalim may also have to pay fines.

Jewish Press News Briefs

‘The IRS Wants YOU’ and Israel Is Going to Help Them

Monday, March 10th, 2014

A mini “economic social” cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, soon will approve an agreement to share information on accounts of U.S. citizens with the Internal Revenue Service, sources told the Globes business newspaper.

The newspaper said the proposal will allow the IRS full access on Americans’ accounts in Israeli banks and other financial institutions.

The U.S. government is preparing to sign agreements with other countries as well, but Israel is high on its “hit list,” partly because Swiss banks have accounts in three Israeli banks. Switzerland is no longer a safe place for foreigners to hide their money from the tax man, and so Israel has become a favorite home for money launderers and tax evaders.

The Israel Tax Authority is expecting increased revenues if the measure is approved. “The agreement will include an option under which, subject to certain conditions, information will be sent from the U.S. tax authorities to the Israeli tax authorities about the income of Israeli residents in the U.S.,” the document states.

However, while all information on American accounts in Israel will be sent to the IRS, Israel will receive data only in special cases.

The proposed agreement contained clauses aimed at protecting individuals from the IRS misusing personal information, but it is not clear if the IRS has learned its lessons from recent scandals, such as hunting down those nasty pro-Israel groups, as reported here.

Big Brother in Israel also is waiting on deck.

Attorney Yael Grossman, an expert in money laundering, told Globes, “The decision paves the way for further harm to the separation between the management of money by a bank and disclosure to Income Tax. Although at the moment, the measure helps the banks and saves them the need to work directly with the IRS, but experience shows that it will later expose all of the public’s banking activities to the Israel Tax Authority.

“This will be the final burial of banking confidentiality on one hand and a signal for the strengthening and prosperity of alternative institutions, which will rush to offer alternative instruments to the public.”

Americans living in Israel have an alternative to leaving their tax records and financial activities accessible by your closest friendly IRS clerk. They can simply void their American citizenship, a growing trend that was reported here in December.

Approximately 3,000 did so in 2013, three times the number in 2012. That means the IRS cannot snoop on them, but it also means they lose their right to vote in American elections, assuming it would be worth voting.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Bank of Israel May Pop the Bitcoin Bubble

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

The Bank of Israel is considering clamping down on the use of “bitcoins” with stiff regulations and warned the public on Wednesday to beware of possible fraudulent use of the virtual currency.

The bitcoin is a digital currency, but its value is determined by demand. It is worth about $635 today, but was valued at $1,000 late last year and as little as $150 this past September.

Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug issued her warning following the bitcoin’s popularity that has attracted several start-ups to allow the bitcoin to be used to buy everything from soup to shares on the stock market.

The bitcoin “is liable to be exploited for criminal activity, including money laundering, financing illegal activities and financing terrorism,” the Bank stated.

“It was agreed to continue to examine various perspectives related to the use of, and trade in, virtual currencies. These perspectives include possible macro effects, their legal standing, their regulation, money laundering and terror financing risks, taxation and consumer protection.”

The statement added, “It is emphasized that they [bitcoins] are also not legal tender of any country, and that the term used does not indicate any legal status as ‘currency.’”

It also pointed out that bitcoins, since they are only virtual currencies and are stored on smartphones or computers, are subject to robbery through hacking.

Regulators in the United States , Canada, the European Union  and elsewhere, who have published similar warnings to the public.

However, all the warnings may be superfluous. Wired.com reported Wednesday that a computer glitch at Mt. Gox, once the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange, has scared bitcoin owners.

Mt. Gox said two weeks temporarily stopped allowing customers to withdraw bitcoins, stating that the glitch in bitcoin software affected it and another exchange. The result was a dive in the value of bitcoins at Mt. Gox although it has remained steady elsewhere.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/bank-of-israel-may-pop-the-bitcoin-bubble/2014/02/19/

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