Fischer calls Dankner case a ‘sad story’

Yacimovich: "We need to thank BoI head for insisting on Hapoalim chief’s resignation"; police probe suspicious transactions.

By SHARON WROBEL
March 5, 2010 11:42
2 minute read.
Dan Dankner.

Dan Dankner 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The police investigation against former Bank Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner is a “sad story,” Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said Thursday. Nevertheless, the central bank protected Hapoalim’s stability by forcing Dankner’s resignation last year, he said.

“It is a sad story from many perspectives,” Fischer said at a Knesset Finance Committee meeting in Tel Aviv. “It is not in our authority to be part of the investigation. All I can say is that I am happy that we succeeded in our main goal to protect and preserve the stability of the bank, its customers and investors.”

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Fischer’s remarks came a day after it was revealed that Dankner, CEO of Arison Investments, the investment arm of Bank Hapoalim’s controlling shareholder, Shari Arison, was interrogated over the last couple of days by the National Fraud Squad on suspicion of misconduct and breach of trust in connection with his role at the bank from 2005 to 2009.

Fischer declined to comment whether the allegations in the current investigation are related to the central bank’s demand last year for Dankner to step down over the management and appointments at Hapoalim.

Dankner resigned from the post of executive chairman of the board of Hapoalim last June over differences of opinion with the Bank of Israel following a two-month power battle between Arison and Supervisor of Banks Rony Hizkiyahu.

The Bank of Israel refused to provide Arison with any specific details of the reasoning for the forced ousting of Dankner.

“The governor has had to deal with much criticism over the handling of Dankner’s ousting,” Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich said Thursday at the Knesset Finance Committee meeting. “Today, we know that the regulator did a good job. We need to thank Fischer for the battle he fought insisting on Dankner’s resignation.”

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The police investigation is said to be examining transactions Dankner was involved in concerning the authorization of extensions of credit of millions of shekels and potential conflicts of interest because of his holdings in companies including financially troubled Elran Investments.

The police investigation is also said to be looking into Hapoalim’s acquisition of Turkey’s Bank Pozitif Ve Kalkinma Bankasi Anonim Sirketi from C Faktoring Anonim Sirketi, which took place under Dankner’s authority. Dankner’s connection to RP Capital, an investment fund registered in the Cayman Islands, which originally carried out the deal with Hapoalim for the acquisition of Bank Pozitif, is said to be be a topic of interest.

The police have not yet provided any official details about the allegations in the investigation against Dankner.

Former Bank Hapoalim CEO Zvi Ziv was summoned by the police this week for questioning about the case, and Arison is expected to be questioned in the coming days.

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