(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A lawyer who had defrauded Holocaust survivors of NIS 800 million and who was arrested by the National Fraud Unit in Tel Aviv on Monday for attempting to flee the country, will begin his prison sentence immediately, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.
Yisrael Perry was convicted in 2007 of stealing hundreds of millions of marks from thousands of Holocaust survivors in an elaborate scheme, and was sentenced by the Tel Aviv District Court to 12 years in prison.
He appealed the sentence to the Supreme Court, which delayed implementing the sentence by 30 days to March 8 as it examined the case.
The court then upheld Perry's conviction, but reduced the sentence to 10 years.
On Monday evening, officers pounced on Perry as he reported to a Tel Aviv police station, charging him with plotting to escape the country with false documents.
Police said detectives had uncovered a series of moves made by Perry aimed at creating a fictitious identity and fleeing the country. He was taken to the National Fraud Unit's Bat Yam Headquarters after his arrest.
The Justice Ministry wasted little time in dispatching prosecutors to the Supreme Court the following day to convince the justices to incarcerate Perry immediately, a request that was granted Tuesday evening.
"We are canceling the decision to delay the sentencing," Justices Edmund Levi, Salim Jubran and Yoram Danziger wrote in their ruling.
Perry's lawyer, Yisrael Walnerman, said he believed the arrest was an attempt by the prosecution to circumvent the court's decision to delay the sentencing.
Perry was convicted of stealing money from a total of 9,000 clients. He was convicted of two counts of theft and fraudulent receipt of goods under aggravated circumstances, unlawfully dealing in insurance schemes, and subverting the course of a trial, among other charges.
Perry's 2007 trial revealed how he stole the equivalent of 800 million shekels, most of which came from insurance premiums paid by his clients to insurance companies under his control.
In 1978, Israel and West Germany signed a treaty that gave Israeli citizens a right to receive pensions from the German national insurance institute. A one-time payment was needed to join the program to cover monthly premiums and retroactive costs.
The Tel Aviv District Court said Perry deceived his clients by securing funds from a German bank and using the money to found two loan companies, BGA and BGF, to provide the clients with loans to cover the payment, while pretending to have no connection with the companies.
Perry required his clients to sign statements promising that the loans be repaid in the event of their deaths. Perry then obligated the clients to commit to an insurance policy, while founding two insurance companies to offer his clients the "required" policies.