Port of Ashdod.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Fifteen people suspected of running a smuggling scam that bilked the state out of tens of millions of shekels in taxes were indicted Tuesday for a series of conspiracy and fraud charges.
Early this month, 200 investigators from the police and the Tax Authority raided Ashdod Port and homes belonging to the 15 suspects, most of whom worked in importing and warehousing goods at the port.
According to the indictment presented at the Beersheba District Court, between the years 2010 and 2013, the suspects falsified the value of imports in order to pay less tax, using a shell company running out of a storehouse at the port.
They allegedly used a number of international companies to launder millions of shekels in revenue and throw off Tax Authority investigators.
Police said that the suspects – all of whom are from Ashdod – also managed to counterfeit some 100,000 bottles of highend liquor, including fake versions of brands such as Van Gogh, Jack Daniels, Grey Goose, Johnny Walker and Chivas.
The suspects avoided paying some NIS 36 million in taxes, the Tax Authority said on Tuesday.
The suspects, who include Haim Cohen, Yossi Malul, Eyal Marchi, Tal Marchi, David Cohen, Yitzhak Abuhatzeira, Michael Abutbul, Moshe Levitt and Sharon Davrit-Anaki, face charges including conspiracy, aggravated fraud, aggravated counterfeiting, tax evasion and forgery.
Police said that the case is part of ongoing efforts to fight smuggling and various forms of corruption at the seaports, and that they were aided in this instance by law enforcement authorities in a number of countries in Europe.