Tax Authority nabs organizers of overseas gambling tours

Undercover police operation uncovers evidence that 3 men had run gambling tours for thousands of Israelis in return for commission fees paid by the casinos.

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September 1, 2011 05:40
1 minute read.
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casino roulette 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday extended the detention of three men arrested over allegedly undeclared income.

Hertzel Garbai, his son Nir Garbai and son-in-law Tzafrir Itzhaki were arrested on suspicion of hiding income and avoiding income tax relating to gambling tours they had organized to casinos abroad.

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As part of a undercover police operation codenamed Operation Fateful Gamble, investigators from the Yahalom National Investigation and Crime-fighting Unit uncovered evidence that the three men had run gambling tours for thousands of Israelis, in return for commission fees paid by the casinos.

The casino fees amounted to millions of shekels, police said.

The Tax Authority became suspicious when Hertzel Garbai reported that his income for 2005 to 2009 amounted only to NIS 16,000.

The other two suspects, who police say helped Garbai organize the trips for groups of gamblers, declared to the Tax Authority they had been employed in several other companies and had earned around NIS 50,000 per year during 2005 to 2009.

Police also suspect the three concealed income in 2010 and 2011.

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Police representative Haim Saya asked that the court remand the three in custody for an additional three days because of concerns they would try to obstruct the ongoing investigation.

Saya claimed the three men had already tried to hamper the investigation by hiding a personal computer that police had asked to examine.

Nir Garbai’s defense attorney, Asher Sohmi, said that his client had not concealed income, but that he had merely assisted his father and received occasional financial rewards for that help.

Sohmi told the court that organizing gambling trips to foreign casinos was not in itself a criminal act. “It seems to me we’re mixing a thrilling story about gamblers abroad with a tax assessment,” he said.

However, Judge Zecharia Yeminy ruled that the three should be remanded in custody for the next three days.

“The reason the three suspects were detained is a real concern they will obstruct the course of justice,” Yeminy said.

The investigation continues.

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