(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former deputy finance minister Mikey Levy on Tuesday said he supports filing criminal charges against Bank Leumi following its essentially admitting to criminal tax evasion as part of a settlement with US authorities in late 2014.
Recent reports have indicated that the special prosecution team appointed by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein in January has recommended that he indict the bank and some of its former top officials, such as former CEO Galia Maor and former chairman Eitan Raff.
Weinstein has the final say, and the Justice Ministry said that the prosecution team has not yet presented its final recommendations to him.
In December 2014, Bank Leumi agreed to pay $400 million to settle two separate investigations into whether it helped its US clients evade taxes. The bank also fired some senior employees who engaged in misconduct and agreed to have an independent monitor review its compliance programs, the New York State Department of Financial Services said in a statement at the time.
Bank Leumi had been negotiating for months with the US Department of Justice and New York State to settle the tax evasion investigation. The bank committed to pay the federal government a total of $270 million and New York State $130 million.
Levy said, “I join the call for the attorney-general to open a criminal investigation against Bank Leumi’s former leaders” who illegally helped their clients avoid taxes in the US.
He added that, “The information that has been revealed to the public so far regarding tax evasion is enough to justify opening such a criminal investigation.
On tax crimes – small ones are the same as severe ones in that they harm the public’s faith” in the state’s institutions.
Reuters contributed to this report.