(photo credit: REUTERS)
Embattled real estate magnate Inbal Or has shifted tactics in her defense of allegations of tax fraud, money laundering and the systematic defrauding dozens of customers, and is now blaming the embezzlement on senior officials in her company Or City Real Estate, and offering to testify to police.
Over the weekend, Or’s new attorney, Adi Carmeli, sent a letter to the police in which he wrote that Or is willing to testify about crimes allegedly carried out by senior employees at her company. She stated that she did not know about and was not involved in the wrongdoing, and only learned of it after she received information from an anonymous source after she was questioned by police last Wednesday for several hours.
Carmeli recently replaced Reuven Bilet, who had resigned as Or’s defense attorney. He was the 10th lawyer to leave Or in recent weeks.
In an interview with Army Radio on Sunday morning, Carmeli said “documents have shown that millions were embezzled from within Or City, and we will pass these on to police. This is based on documents which require a police investigation.”
Carmeli said that the embezzlement happened over the past two years, and not over 11 years as has been alleged, and that Or had no knowledge of the wrongdoing.
He gave no indication about whether she was offering to turn state’s witness against the employees in question.
Last Wednesday, police from the Fraud Squad in Tel Aviv questioned Or under caution for several hours.
There has been a media storm for more than a week involving allegations of fraud and tax evasion worth millions. Or is suspected of carrying out large-scale tax evasion and money laundering in recent years, and that her company sold the same apartments to multiple buyers.
The police questioning followed several occasions in which Or was questioned under caution by the Israel Tax Authority, which has been investigating the allegations for several months.
She was first arrested by the Tax Authority in February and released to house arrest, but her name remained under gag order until last week.
Or – a 40-year-old mother of four, including a fourmonth- old – is a major player in the real estate market.
In 2005, Globes named Or City Real Estate as the nation’s sixth largest real estate company.
In February, Dror Giladi, chief financial officer of the Inbal Or Group of real estate development companies, was arrested by the Israel Tax Authority on suspicion that he assisted Or in concealing deals worth tens of millions of shekels and issuing fictitious invoices.
Gilad, 49, was arrested and then released on bail. He serves as CFO for a group that incorporates 16 companies owned by Inbal Or and as part of his job he is responsible for reporting to the Israel Tax Authority. He was arrested following a sixmonth covert investigation by officials from the Tax Authority’s Jerusalem VAT and Excise office together with the Tel Aviv VAT and Purchase Tax office.