Court convicts ex-lawyer president Efi Nave of border fraud

Former Israel Bar Association President Efi Nave was accused of violating customs border security at Ben Gurion Airport.

Efi Nave in court (photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)
Efi Nave in court
(photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday convicted former Israel Bar Association President Efi Nave of violating customs border security at Ben-Gurion Airport in 2018.

The conviction is a final slap to the man who was once in many ways the country’s decisive figure in shaping the Supreme Court via an alliance he formed with then justice minister Ayelet Shaked.

Although the conviction was years in the making, Nave already knew he had an uphill battle after the Supreme Court rejected one of his central claims in 2019.

He had sought to blow a hole in the prosecution’s case by claiming that many people perpetrate the crime he was being prosecuted for, and that the enforcement against him was so arbitrary that it was illegal.

To move his legal fight forward, Nave demanded that the prosecution reveal all evidence related to similar cases so that he could try to sideline the trial against him in a spin-off trial over arbitrary enforcement.

 Supreme Court Chief of Justice Ester Hayut with Supreme Court judge George Karra and Supreme court justices at a ceremony held for outgoign Supreme Court judge George Karra, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on May 29, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Supreme Court Chief of Justice Ester Hayut with Supreme Court judge George Karra and Supreme court justices at a ceremony held for outgoign Supreme Court judge George Karra, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on May 29, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

While the Supreme Court allowed Nave to still submit specific requests for specific items of evidence to try to make his arbitrary enforcement argument, it rejected his demand for comprehensive disclosure by the state prosecution.

Sex-for-judgeship scandal

That 2019 legal blow to Naveh came only days after the state prosecution announced that it would likely indict him for bribery in a sex-for-judgeship scandal.

In fact, in the end the sex-for-judgeship case was eventually closed in March 2021 on the basis that Nave’s intent was a mix of legal and illegal motivations, but it was that scandal which dislodged him from power over the lawyers’ association.

In the Ben-Gurion Airport case, Nave allegedly snuck a woman – his partner after splitting with his wife – past the customs officials to avoid any record that they crossed through customs together. The two wanted to avoid any possible negative impact on his ongoing divorce proceedings.

Due to Naveh’s nearly complete power over the bar association and alliances with key politicians at the time, he had managed to stay in office despite that indictment for committing fraud against Ben-Gurion Airport customs officials.

However, on Tuesday he was out of options.

Though Nave continued to try to make the argument to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court that he was being arbitrarily prosecuted, following the Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling, the lower court easily brushed off this defense.

Nave’s other defenses ran into issues since the prosecution had video footage of him involved in the actions he was accused of.

It was unclear what his sentence would be for the conviction, though there was wide media speculation that he could likely lose his license as a lawyer.