State drops indictment against London financier

Emanuel Arbib had been accused of bribing Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar with close to a million shekels.

June 6, 2012 00:37
2 minute read.

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The Tel Aviv District Court last week closed the case against a London- based businessman who had been indicted for allegedly bribing Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar with close to a million shekels.

On May 30, the state filed a joint request with the accused, Emanuel Arbib, to strike its indictment and close the case against Arbib.

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The next day the court confirmed the joint request, essentially erasing the indictment as if it had never been filed.

The state did reserve the right to refile an indictment at a later date depending on developments in the bribery investigation, which also involves other suspects.

So although Arbib may not be completely out of the woods, the state apparently was convinced enough by new evidence presented to it of Arbib’s innocence that it agreed to request annulment of its own indictment even though its overall investigation has not ended.

The dramatic turn of events came nearly six months after the indictment was filed in December 2011.

A change in the direction of the case against Arbib was already developing in February and March, when Arbib’s legal team provided the state with new documents.

Not only had the state not had the documents previously, but Arbib’s legal team said that it had only acquired some of the documents subsequent to the filing of the indictment.

Following the transfer of the new exculpatory documents, Arbib’s legal team asked that the state annul its own indictment.

The push to withdraw the indictment reached a highpoint at a meeting that, because of the high profile of the case, included State Attorney Moshe Lador on April 30, 2012.

The indictment had alleged that Arbib, an Italian citizen and CEO of London-based investment firm Integrated Asset Management PLC, gave Bar bribes totaling NIS 977,743 to influence local planning committees to green-light the Beit Lir Or project, in which Arbib’s company Blantfort Investment Management Ltd had a substantial interest.

Mayor since 1989, at the time of the alleged bribery Bar was chief of the local Planning and Zoning Committee and a member of the District Building Committee, and was in a position of considerable influence, the indictment had charged.

Arbib had also been charged with money-laundering. The canceled indictment had alleged that he had concealed the bribe by disguising it as a £225,000 loan to Bar from London-based company Grove Property Finance Ltd.

As part of the court order and agreement brokered between Arbib and the state, all of Arbib’s assets that had been frozen or seized were released by the state.

The agreement also provides that should the state for any reason refile the indictment, Arbib has waived any right to use the state’s current cancelling of its initial indictment in his favor. Moreover, he has waived the right to oppose any act by the state to refreeze and reseize his assets, which will happen automatically if the state decides to refile a new indictment.

Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.

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