Financier and former Bank Israel Governor Ya’akov Frankel withdrew his candidacy for the a second stint as bank governor, because of a “mudslinging campaign” being waged against him, over the revelation that he allegedly stole a large suit carrier from a duty free store in Hong Kong airport.
According to Frankel, he had been avoiding contact with the media over his own version of the story because his nomination was being reviewed by a committee approving high level appointments. Speaking to Israel Channel 2 News, Frankel explained that because of an embarrassing misunderstanding with a female colleague, he left the store with a carrier that had not been paid for.
Frankel stressed that the authorities in Hong Kong accepted his explanation without reservation and closed the investigation.
The former bank governor added he was sorry that he wouldn’t be able to take care of the big problems of the Israeli economy, especially the suffering middle class, housing issues and the tax burden.
In recent weeks, the high level appointments committee, chaired by Justice Ya’akov Turkel, examined the suspicions regarding Frankel’s duty free episode. It also examined an ombudsman’s report which required Frankel to return money to the state of Israel.
Stanley Fisher, Israel’s most recent bank governor, has ended his term at the end of last month, and is being replaced temporarily by his Deputy, Karnit Flug.
Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid said they were sorry for Frankel’s decision, adding that this is a direct result of an atmosphere in which a man is maligned in public without being able to present his side of the story. They warned that pretty soon no person of value would want to come near public service because of this atmosphere.
No one mentioned to Netanyahu his Likud party’s election campaign last winter, in which a long list of Jewish Home leaders were maligned individually and as a group with enough lying to make even a former bank governor blush.