Heftsiba court 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The tumult surrounding the collapse of Heftsiba Construction, Development and Investments Ltd. has grown into a massive criminal investigation, with company executives making daily appearances in court even as an arrest warrant was issued against CEO Boaz Yona, who is currently known to be in Europe.
Late Sunday evening, Freddy Algemil, the former assistant to the CEO of Heftsiba, was remanded in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court to five days of house arrest, during which the police will continue to probe his involvement in the firm's financial dealings.
Also on Sunday, investigators from the Israel Securities Authority brought Mordechai Netanel to a remand extension hearing, where he, too, was released on bail to five days of house arrest. Netanel, the chief financial officer of the "Heftsiba Jerusalem Gold" company, is suspected of a series of offenses including failure to report, false documentation, fraud, and violation of trust.
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But it was an earlier hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court that was the most telling Sunday, when an arrest warrant was issued against Yona, Heftsiba's now-notorious CEO who left the country approximately 30 hours before the company's collapse.
Should Yona, who is now considered a fugitive from the law, return to Israel, he will be arrested at the border. Last week, a court also moved to prevent Yona's belongings in his Ein Kerem residence from being shipped out of the country.
One officer in the Investigations and Intelligence Division said Sunday that even as the Tel Aviv court was continuing with proceedings against Yona, police investigators were working together with representatives of other government agencies to gather testimony against the Heftsiba CEO.
Additional corporate officials and bank representatives were questioned throughout the day Sunday, as were would-be buyers who invested in Heftsiba properties.
Netanel is the second Heftsiba official on the inglorious list of corporate executives currently under arrest. On Friday, it was the turn of former Heftsiba CFO Ze'ev Tannenbaum to appear before the Tel Aviv court, where his remand was extended for a full week while police continue to probe suspicions that he was involved in theft, fraud and breach of trust.
Police opened a criminal investigation into the affair last Wednesday following claims made by Heftsiba buyers that Yona himself requested that payment checks for apartments be made out in his name, to be deposited in his personal bank accounts.
One day later, the Jerusalem District Court froze legal proceedings against Heftsiba for the next two weeks. Judge David Cheshin also appointed a former director-general of the Finance Ministry, Yossi Bechar, to audit the firm's holdings.