holocaust survivor 244.8.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Attorney Yisrael Perry was convicted in Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday of stealing 320 million German marks from clients of his organization, the Organization for the Realization of the Social Security Treaty.
The organization's declared mission was to assist Israelis to receive compensation from Germany in the form of social security pensions.
Perry was convicted of theft, fraud, obstruction of justice and withholding vital information from his clients in order to deprive them of their money.
The name of Perry's organization refers to a treaty signed by Israel and Germany in 1973 that went into effect seven years later. According to the treaty, eligible Israeli citizens would pay social security contributions retroactively and, upon reaching the designated age, receive a monthly pension in the same manner as any German citizen.
Shortly after the treaty came into effect, Perry set up his organization, which promised to represent the interests of Israelis dealing with the German government to assure that they received the funds to which they were entitled. Perry set out on a large-scale advertising campaign and signed up 30,000 clients. However, he hid the fact that he was the owner of the organization.
Meanwhile, Perry set up other companies to provide loans to those who needed them in order to receive their pension rights. The terms of the loans left his clients with very little of the pensions, while they were unaware that the loaning bodies had been set up by Perry and of the inherent conflict of interests that this entailed.
A central component of the loans was insurance premiums. The court found that Perry forced his clients to pay insurance premiums that he did not pass on to the insurance companies. He thus accumulated large sums of money that he kept for himself.
Perry also offered to act as the clients' broker with insurance companies and to provide them with life insurance, charging much than the insurance companies requested and pocketing the difference.
The court also said the name "Organization for the Realization of the Social Security Treaty" was chosen to deceive clients into thinking it was a state-backed body. "The accused hid his ownership of the organization not only from employees but from other bodies, such as the authorities and the courts. When questioned on the subject he lied blatantly on some occasions... this is systematic, well-planned fraud, sophisticated in its means, which involved complex and hard-to-understand agreements."
The trial has lasted six years and its verdict spans hundreds of pages. Arguments for sentencing will be held in January.