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Police arraign three associates of mobster Amir Mulner in '300 million shekel money laundering case'
By BEN HARTMAN
19/12/2013
Case involves major sums of money funneled through currency exchanges and straw companies over the past four years.
 
One of alleged mob boss Amir Mulner’s closest associates and oldest friends is at the center of a money laundering and tax evasion case police believe involved as much as NIS 300 million in laundered and unreported funds over the past four years.

The case is being handled by police and tax authority investigators and deals with what police say are major sums of money that were funneled through currency exchanges and straw companies over the past four years.

Two of the suspects do not have criminal records and one of them is a senior official at a company that works in the Israeli stock market.

The three suspects, two of whose identities are covered under a gag order, were arrested on Wednesday, and on Thursday their remands were extended by six days by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.

While it’s unclear how connected to the underworld two of the suspects are, Ben Cohen’s name has rung out in the Israeli organized crime world for well over a decade.

A native of the Ramat Amidar neighborhood of Ramat Gan, he went to high school with Amir Mulner, and like Mulner, he came up in the famed Ramat Amidar gang, led by the Harari brothers.

The gang waged a deadly war with the Pardes Katz gang in the ’80s and ’90s, leaving over a dozen victims on both sides dead.

Cohen was marked as a rising star in the Israeli underworld after he was arrested and convicted for the murder of Israeli Alon Giladi in Los Angeles in 1999. Giladi was found beaten to death and stuffed into the trunk of an SUV in Los Angeles, and Cohen ended up spending seven years in a United States penitentiary for manslaughter in the case.

Later, in March 2009, he was arrested for throwing a grenade at a Subaru dealership on Hamasger Street in Tel Aviv as part of a campaign of intimidation aimed at the dealership’s owners. Along the way, he has remained a highly successful and feared loan shark in the Israeli “gray market” – and one of Mulner’s most trusted associates.

The arraignment on Thursday was the latest blow – at least for now – leveled against Mulner’s organization. On Wednesday five of his associates were indicted for conspiring to cause grave bodily harm to a man who had feuded with Mulner. The men allegedly acquired a pistol and took it to a Ramat Gan apartment building, where they stashed it. Police later raided the building and found the pistol, as well as surveillance camera footage that allegedly implicated the men.

Police said openly on Wednesday that they believe that the indictments should help them make progress in their investigation into the bombing of a Tel Aviv prosecutor’s car in November. No one was hurt in the attack, which was linked back to Mulner because the prosecutor was in charge of handling cases against Mulner’s organization for the state.

Mulner is not at the moment in Israel, and is believed to have left just before the bombing in November. He is considered wanted for questioning, and if he does return, should expect to be taken in for questioning by detectives from the Lahav 433 serious crimes unit.
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