The Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday convicted Attorney Israel Perry, convicted of stealing hundreds of millions of Deutsche Marks from clients of the Association for Implementing the Social Security Covenant (AISSC), which he founded, to 12 years in prison. Perry was also ordered to pay an NIS 22 million ($6.1 million) fine.
Most of Perry’s clients were Holocaust survivors, who Perry supposedly represented in reparation negotiations with the German government. Judge Zecharia Caspi noted the severity of Perry’s crimes, and defined his actions as "wide-scale theft and fraud".
Perry was convicted by of aggravated fraud, embezzlement, obstruction of justice and violation of insurance laws four months ago after a lengthy six-year trail.
In 1973, Israel and West Germany signed a compensation agreement under which eligible Israel citizens would be permitted to join the West Germany's Social Security Authority's pension plan. To sign up a one-time payment was required to cover monthly premiums
In 1983, three years after the agreement went into effect, Perry established the AISSC and presented himself as the survivors' representative in the reparation negotiations with the West German government. Some 30,000 Israelis registered in Perry’s organization.
Perry did not inform his clients that he was the actual owner and founder of the AISSC, and made them believe that this was a legitimate, state-run origination. “The client kept his ownership of the AISSC concealed not only from his clients, but also from local authorities and various courts to which he blatantly lied…this was systematic, elaborate, well- planned fraud,” noted the court.
According to the court's ruling, Perry did not inform his clients that the terms of the loans he had arranged for them, through companies under his control, led to excessive repayments, part of which he pocketed. In doing so, noted the court, he concealed vital information from his potential clients, defrauding them of exorbitant sums of money.
'Money should be given to survivors'Judge Caspi utilized the sentencing hearing to harshly criticize Perry’s actions, noting that “Attorney Perry acted in a slick, dishonest, despicable manner. He defrauded his clients, caused them great harm, and committed severe offenses for a prolonged period of time.”
The judge further noted that time does not mitigate Perry’s crimes, or the punishment that he ought to receive, and that Perry’s attempts to establish a compensation fund for his wronged clients are nothing but a “theatrical show that amounts to very little”. He also noted, however, that he hoped such a fund will actually be established.
The Centre of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel (COHSI) said Tuesday that "the court has done justice with a person who systematically deceived the Holocaust survivors. The verdict and sentence speak for themselves."
Sources in the COHSI noted that the money Perry was ordered to pay as a fine should be handed over to the survivors, rather than to the State.
Yael Branovsky contributed to this report