Among those investigated in the Deri affair: billionaire Mikhael Mirilashvili and his son
Yitzhak Mirilashvili is the controlling shareholder of Channel 20; his father, Mikhael, is one of the largest donors to the Jewish community in Russia; police are investigating the transfer of funds to the association of Yaffa Deri.
Mikhael Mirilashvili was born in 1960 in Kulashi, Georgia. He immigrated to Israel in 1995 and has lived intermittently in Herzliya and St. Petersburg. Mirilashvili was certified as a pediatrician in the Soviet Union, but after receiving his license, which occurred at the same time as the fall of the Communist regime, he switched to business.
Mirilashvili has dealt extensively in real estate and hi-tech, including development centers, social networking and VKontakte (VK), one of the largest social media networks in the world. In addition, he is involved in the gas, diamonds, petrochemicals industries, casinos and shopping malls.
He is also considered a major contributor to Jewish communities in the CIS and serves as president of Maccabi Russia, President of the Center for Torah and Chesed for immigrants from Georgia and Vice President of the Jewish Congress of Russia and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Mirilashvili's father was kidnapped on a highway in 2000 while driving his Lexus car by a group posing as traffic police. The kidnappers apparently did not know who they kidnapped, and did not notice the logo of the family casino company on the license plate. Two days later, the father, Moshe Mikhael, was safely returned. Two weeks later, the bodies of two of those responsible for the kidnapping were found dead, along with their girlfriends and driver.
Russian authorities arrested Mikhael Mirilashvili and accused him of involvement in the kidnapping. In 2003, he was sent to eight years in prison. Mirilashvili constantly claimed that the central testimony was motivated by revenge and six years after his arrest he was released from Russian prison. In 2013, Mirilashvili's fortune was estimated at over $2 billion.
His son, Yitzhak Mirilashvili, 33, is already rapidly approaching the same net worth. Last year, Mirilashvili was ranked 85th in the Forbes list of richest Russians and his fortune was estimated at $950 million. Mirilashvili Jr., the controlling shareholder of Channel 20, made most of his fortune from the social network VK and is sometimes referred to as the Russian Mark Zuckerberg.
Mirilashvili, who is also head of real estate company Rothstein, made headlines in 2013 when he sold his stake in VK shares for $1.12 billion, which made him one of the wealthiest Russian Jews at the age of 28.
Others questioned in the Deri affair is Moshe Haba, 66, a well-to-do businessman, former deputy head of the Finance Ministry's budget department, who served in senior public positions, including as a member of Bezeq's board of directors and chairman, chairman of Pelephone and chairman of Bezeq International. He is affiliated with the ultra-Orthodox party Shas and was a member of the Gronau Committee, which examined the conditions of competition in the communications market. In the last few years, he has been investing in real estate, and acquired, among other things, five percent of the Jerusalem Economic Real Estate Company and the old post office building in Jerusalem.
Another suspect, Erez Malul, a young Jerusalem lawyer affiliated with Shas, is close to the Shas spiritual leader, Rabbi David Yosef (son of the late spiritual leader of the movement, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef). After the last elections, he began working in the Ministry of Religious Services—first as the Minister's Advisor on Legislative Affairs and today, as the CEO's chief of staff.
On Monday, the names of two other suspects were released: Jerusalem City Councilman Moshe Lion, who ran for mayor, and Ariel Mishal, director general of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee.
After Deri and his wife were questioned on Monday for 11 hours at the offices of the National Fraud Investigation Unit in Lod, the police published the charges of money laundering, fraud and breach of trust, tax evasions and false reports about income and assets.