Did jealous millionaire order hit on TA lawyer?

The tycoon had previously accused Hacham of conducting an affair with his wife.

Yoram Hacham 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Yoram Hacham 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Tel Aviv Police detectives are looking into the possibility that a jealous Russian-Israeli multimillionaire, who cannot be named due to a court gag order, contracted "a hit" on Yoram Hacham, 53, the senior criminal lawyer killed in a Tel Aviv car bombing on Wednesday evening. The tycoon had previously accused Hacham of conducting an affair with his wife. Hacham, who represented several alleged crime family bosses, told associates in recent weeks that he was being followed by private investigators sent by the tycoon, and expressed concern for his safety. "This is one of our lines of inquiry," a police spokeswoman said. "There are also other directions in the investigation that have not been discussed in the media." In 2007, the unnamed Russian Israeli sued Hacham for NIS 3.5 million, alleging that the lawyer was conducting an affair with his wife and had stolen approximately NIS 500,000. The lawsuit was initiated after the millionaire's wife filed for a divorce and reportedly moved in with Hacham. According to the lawsuit, the tycoon hired Hacham in 2005 to represent him. During one meeting, Hacham allegedly proposed that the millionaire become involved in a property deal in the Turkish part of Cyprus. After receiving the tycoon's approval, Hacham and the tycoon's wife regularly flew to Cyprus to survey plots, during which time, according to the mogul, they began an affair. The millionaire became suspicious when, after two years of surveying properties, his wife and Hacham bought a plot and registered it in her name instead of the name of the international company owned by the magnate, as he had requested. He sued the lawyer for breach of faith, acting out of a conflict of interest, violating the norms of his profession, and deception, among other charges. The tycoon also accused Hacham of stealing the money that was kept in a safe in Hacham's office for the purpose of "hosting" business guests from abroad. Hacham repeatedly rejected the millionaire's claims, and filed a countersuit for slander, demanding NIS 500,000. He described his relationship with the millionaire's wife as a "brave friendship." After being told by the millionaire that Hacham was having an illicit relationship with his wife, furthermore, the lawyer's wife reportedly filed for divorce. The millionaire's wife was at the scene of the explosion on Wednesday in Tel Aviv. It is not clear when she arrived, or whether she has since been questioned by police. Three months ago, the millionaire was interviewed by 103 FM radio. "I need to explain to the public about this lawyer, so that others are not hurt," he said. "I believe I am not the first. I know he had stories in the past. I don't want to go into details." In a letter sent to the Israel Bar Association, Hacham said the millionaire was being used "by someone who is one of the Israel Police's most central targets," a likely reference to a leading crime family boss. Hacham's clients included Assi Abutbul, of the reputed Abutbul crime family from Netanya. After hearing of the accusations levelled by the tycoon against Hacham, Abutbul fired the lawyer, citing the media reports over the lawsuit. He then rehired Hacham, expressing regret over the sacking. Arieh Alperon from Ra'anana, another alleged underworld kingpin, was also a client of Hacham. The lawyer represented figures who were reportedly on opposite sides of a long-standing mafia war; in recent years, the Alperon and Abergeil families allegedly united in a battle for control over the black market and gambling industries. They were taken on by Ze'ev Rosenstein (now in Ayalon Prison), who joined forces with the Abutbul family. A series of bombs, shootings and LAW missiles killed several people during that mob feud. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, a former Israel Police inspector-general said the police would take four steps in the coming days. "On the crime scene, the Identification and Forensics Division will work with the Explosives Division to gather evidence. Passersby will be questioned to see if there is something they remember that can help the investigation along. The family and friends of the deceased will be questioned and his business affairs will be examined. And intelligence will be gathered, including of course the story of the millionaire," he said. "If Hacham really said the millionaire was sent by a leading crime boss, it will be very easy for police to find that connection and find out who he was talking about," the source said. "At the same time, his statement can't be taken as fact." Meanwhile, the Knesset reacted angrily to a refusal by police to attend a meeting of the Internal Affairs Committee to discuss Wednesday's car bombing. Police say the court-imposed gag order means no officers can talk about the investigation. "The police are obliged to report to the Knesset on its handling of the phenomenon of criminal settling of accounts," Committee Chairman Ophir Paz-Pines said. "This phenomenon invades the lives of citizens and endangers everyone. It is unacceptable to us that the police hide behind a media ban instead of holding a public discussion."