Photo: Omer Cohen
The largest laundering scandal in Israeli history
Photo: Omer Cohen
Photo: Oren Agmon
Offices raided - Gusinsky
Photo: Oren Agmon
Photo: Tal Cohen
Zvi Hefetz, ambassador to London
Photo: Tal Cohen
5 suspects probed in laundering scandal
National fraud squad to question four bank customers in connection with laundering scandal; Zvi Hefetz, currently serving as ambassador to Britain also to be questioned

TEL AVIV - The national fraud squad is set to question five additional suspects in connection with the laundering scandal at the Hayarkon branch of Bank Hapoalim in Tel Aviv.


Two of the suspects, an employee and a customer, were taken into custody overnight. Three other customers are also expected to be questioned Monday.


Police are also investigating whether Zvi Hefetz, who was the former business manager of tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky during the period under investigation, was also involved in the scandal.


Hefetz is currently serving as Israel's ambassador to Britain.


Meanwhile, the Petach Tikva Magistrate's Court extended the detention of 10 senior bank employees suspected of involvement in the Bank Hapoalim money laundering scandal.


Another two suspects were placed under house arrest.


Among those detained is former branch manager Motti Cohen, who will be detained for another five days.


Police investigators also raided the offices of business

tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky Sunday and recovered various documents in their investigation into the huge money laundering scheme.


Senior police officials estimate Gusinsky, who has a bank account at the branch, will be summoned for questioning.


Also, 45 businessmen are expected to be apprehended and questioned, many of whom are well-known in the Israeli business arena.


Largest Israeli money laundering case 


The police international fraud squad revealed one of the largest cases of money laundering in Israeli history has been uncovered at Bank Hapoalim's Hayarkon branch at a press conference Sunday.


A gag order had been placed on the affair until it was announced at Sunday's press conference.


Initial reports have revealed it is estimated that the Tel Aviv Hayarkon branch of Israel's largest bank is allegedly involved in the laundering of hundreds of billions of dollars.


As of Sunday night, police froze 180 bank accounts

belonging to 18 clients and totalling USD 376 million.


The management closed the branch for business on Sunday to allow investigators to carry out a search for further evidence.


The investigation was launched a year ago following a routine check by the Bank Comptroller, who is in charge of investigating illegal monetary transfer and laundering.


According to police, evidence shows that millions of dollars have been transferred to the Hayarkon branch from various countries, where it was laundered and transferred back overseas. The money was allegedly obtained through criminal activity.


First published: 06.03.05, 17:00
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