Committee agrees to early prison release for Commerce Bank embezzler Eti Alon

The Prisons Service parole committee agreed Sunday to shorten the sentence of Eti Alon, who was convicted of stealing millions of shekels from the Commerce Bank where she worked in 2002.
Alon was sentenced in 2003 for her role in the embezzlement of some NIS 300 million from the Trade Bank, where she had been the deputy chief of investment.
She confessed in 2002 to stealing the money over a five-year period, in order to help her brother, Ofer Maximov, pay off his gambling debts. Maximov, who owed underworld crime bosses some NIS 100m., received a jail sentence of 15 years.
Alon’s theft left indelible marks on Israel’s banking industry. The small Trade Bank collapsed, costing the government a half-billion shekels in deposit insurance.
New banking regulation was put in place to prevent employees from having too much unsupervised access.
The entirety of the banking system consolidated as Israelis lost faith in small banks and larger banks bought them up.
Alon has served 12 years of a 17-year sentence, which the committee agreed to cut by a third.
Last June, the committee headed by Justice Shlomo Shoham, denied Alon’s parole request on the grounds that her actions had caused irreparable damage to the bank, its employees and investors, as well as the general public.
The panel said that her offenses were exacerbated by the fact that most of the money she stole had ended up in the hands of organized crime.
Niv Elis contributed to this report.
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