Tax Authority raids Maccabi TA offices seeking evidence

Tax Authority raids Macc

By
October 26, 2009 01:04
3 minute read.

Tax Authority investigators raided the offices of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball club on Sunday, nearly a week after former team manager Moni Fanan committed suicide and it was alleged that he had run a "private bank" used by a number of Maccabi players. Two investigators could be seen carrying boxes of documents and speaking to Maccabi Tel Aviv club employees. The offices were locked and visitors and the press were not allowed to enter the building. While he wouldn't comment on the specifics of the investigation, Maccabi Tel Aviv spokesman Nitzan Horesh said the club "is transparent" and has nothing to hide. Earlier on Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv's operations manager Ami Biton was questioned by investigators at the Tax Authority offices in Tel Aviv. Biton was a close confidant of Fanan, who hanged himself last Monday in his Ramat Aviv home. Many expected Biton to be among the first people questioned by the authority. The Tax Authority would not comment on the investigation. The investment scheme was widely believed to be linked to London investor Nick Levene, a 45-year-old Briton who has relatives in Tel Aviv and Eilat. Levene, who reportedly owes clients hundreds of millions of dollars, has denied any connection to Fanan's fund. "I've only met this gentleman once in my life. That was by walking through the lobby of a hotel in Prague prior to the Euroleague Final Four. I've never met him any other time. I've never had a phone call with him. I've never had an e-mail from him," Levene told the Yisrael Hayom daily. "I can only believe that because of the high-profile media that I'm receiving at the moment due to some of the losses I've taken on the stock market in the UK, they've used this opportunity in the media to associate [us]. I never met the guy, never done any business with him and never had any communication with him," Levene said of Fanan. Earlier on Sunday, a top Israeli basketball official said that the existence of Fanan's fund was known to a large number of people involved in the sport in Israel, and criticized the media for not reporting on the case earlier. Basketball Super League chairman Avner Kopel said he personally knew of several players who invested money with Fanan. "What was I supposed to do about it?" Kopel asked. He also disclosed that at least one player from a team other than Maccabi invested in Fanan's fund. Last Thursday, the Tax Authority announced it would examine Fanan's fund, but would not describe the check as an investigation. The Tax Authority also said on Thursday that it had probed Fanan's private bank in the past, but the investigation was closed when it turned up no wrongdoing. After Fanan's death last week, it emerged that a fund to which he had recruited a number of investors had failed, and the former manager was tens of millions of shekels in debt. Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball chairman Shimon Mizrahi last Thursday dismissed claims that his team's players invested in Fanan's private bank and said attempts to tie Maccabi players to Fanan's failed business dealings were "despicable." Mizrahi also called on the media to stop fueling such allegations. Officials close to Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat said that for the time being, she would not comment on the case out of respect for Fanan's family. The ministry does not have any internal investigative mechanism, and any allegations of criminal misdeeds would be referred to the Public Security Ministry and the Israel Police. Israel Basketball Association referees are also doing their best to deny any connection with Fanan. All 25 BSL referees signed a legal affidavit declaring that they had never had a financial relationship with anyone working for a league club. Allon Sinai and Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.


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