Boaz Yona 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Three weeks after the collapse of his construction empire, the Israel Police issued an international arrest warrant for Heftsiba Construction, Development and Investments Ltd. CEO Boaz Yona on Wednesday afternoon.
Police said that since the opening of their investigation into the construction conglomerate's dramatic collapse two weeks ago, they have been "investing resources that circle the world" in order to locate Yona. Yona and his wife, Tamar, left Israel approximately thirty hours before his company folded under the weight of enormous debts.
On Tuesday, the International Affairs Department of the State's Attorney's office finished, together with attorneys from the office already involved in the Heftsiba prosecution, preparing the paperwork necessary to issue the arrest order.
Officers at the National Police Headquarters said that as soon as they received the okay from the State's Attorney's office, they began to work with their contacts at Interpol.
"The Israel Police, through its own intelligence system and with the cooperation of police organizations throughout the world, is increasing its efforts to trail Boaz Yona," said Ch.-Supt. Yigal Habesor of the police spokesman's office Wednesday.
"The international arrest warrant that was issued will go far to advance the actions related to the location and overseas arrest of Yona, and to bring him back for questioning by the National Fraud Squad," Habesor added.
Police said that although they knew as soon as the investigation into the case began that Yona had fled the country, they could not issue the international arrest warrant until the prosecutors verified that they had enough evidence to indict Yona on various charges. At that point, police claimed that they knew of Yona's whereabouts.
Recently, reports have located Yona in Romania, where he may still hold some real estate property; however, as of Wednesday afternoon various Israeli media outlets reported he was no longer there. Romania and Israel have a particularly solid reciprocal relationship in law enforcement issues, based on additional agreements that add to the basic reciprocity established among Interpol member states. The two countries originally teamed up to combat women trafficking as well as various aspects of "white-collar" crime.
Romanian MP Nati Meir told Army Radio that he too believed that Yona was in the eastern European country. "I know that Boaz Yona borrowed money from local investors here in Romania, and I'm afraid that he'll get into trouble and give Israelis and Jews a bad name," Meir said, adding that Romanian police were tracking Yona's location and were ready to arrest him.
The arrest warrant, which specifies that Yona could be facing up to 27 years in prison if he is found guilty of the charges against him, only concerns the Heftsiba CEO, and does not mention his wife Tamar, who is signed as the guarantor on several of Yona's debts.
But even if Yona is located and arrested overseas, it is likely to still take a number of weeks before he is brought back to Israel for questioning by investigators.