Good news for 400 Israelis who purchase the ceremonial palm (lulav) for the Sukkoth Holiday: Thanks to the uncovering of a cartel of lulav importers, the cost of lulavim will be reduced by a quarter to half the cost of lulavim sold last year. Namely, buyers will be saving at least NIS 50 on the purchase of each lulav.
An investigation launched by the Tax Authority and the General Director of the Anti-Trust Authority, revealed that the importers importing lulavim from Egypt had created a cartel and had coordinated prices.
The three suspects, who ordinarily import vegetables from Jordan and lulavim from Egypt during the holidays, had marked the cost of each lulav at USD 2 each on the import documents.
According to David Ephraim and Eliyahu Itzhaki from the Tax Authority investigation department, findings showed that the cost of each lulav was in fact USD 0.5 . The fraud had led the state to believe that they had paid an amount four times greater.
Initial findings showed that the state coffers lost NIS 1.5 m. Additionally, the two suspects forged the selling price to wholesalers so that they too would make a profit, concealing income from sales in Israel and abroad.
The three vegetable importers were taken into custody, and investigated for allegedly evading taxes amounting to NIS 2 million during last year's holiday period. The two are expected to be indicted soon. Following the investigation, the cost of lulavim due to arrive on the market within a few weeks will be reduced by at least 50 percent compared to last year.