Photo: Tomeriko
The scene of the crime, Hayarkon branch
Photo: Tomeriko
Photo: Ata Avisat
Israel's ambassador to Britain also questioned
Photo: Ata Avisat
photo: Chen Mika
Former Bank Hapoalim CEO gave his testimony Monday
photo: Chen Mika
Photo: Oren Agmon
Gusinsky says he has not committed any illegal acts
Photo: Oren Agmon
Foreign leader tied to bank scandal
Head of former Soviet state may be involved in Bank Hapoalim affair; former CEO questioned
TEL AVIV - Police believe the leader of a former Soviet Union state is involved in the money laundering scandal at the Tel Aviv branch of Bank Hapoalim, Channel 2 Television reported Tuesday.


The foreign leader has an account at the branch in question, on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv, which police believe was involved in a massive money laundering scheme.


As the investigation progresses, police are increasingly convinced

of foreign involvement in the scandal. As a result, the prosecution has requested an international judicial inquiry into the matter.


Former CEO questioned


In addition, the bank's international activity director Barry Ben Zeev was also questioned for his involvement, as well as former Bank Hapoalim CEO Eli Yunis.


Yunis, the most senior bank employee to be investigated, arrived at the police international fraud squad Monday to provide his testimony.


Meanwhile, French desk head Keren Lalum is to be detained for another four days.


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


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


Business tycoon suspected


Police investigators also raided the offices 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.


For the first time since the affair was publicized,
Gusinsky's representative Arnon Perlman denied his boss's connection to the scandal.


"His business activities in Israel and around the world are managed according to Israeli and international law and are completely transparent," he said. "Mr. Gusinsky will fully cooperate with the police if requested to do so."


Largest Israeli money laundering case


Initial reports Sunday revealed the Tel Aviv- Hayarkon branch of Israel's largest bank is allegedly involved in the laundering of hundreds of billions of dollars, the largest in Israeli history.


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 were transferred to the Hayarkon branch from various countries, where it was laundered and transferred back overseas.


The money was allegedly obtained through criminal activity.


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


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