Heftsiba founder Mordechai Yona taken to court

Yona is the father of Boaz Yona, the CEO of Heftsiba who police believe fled to Europe and for whom they have issued an arrest warrant.

Mordechai Yona 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Mordechai Yona 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Heftsiba Construction, Development and Investments Ltd. founder Mordechai Yona became on Wednesday the first member of his family to appear in court in connection with the family-run corporation's collapse. Yona is the father of Boaz Yona, the CEO of Heftsiba who police believe fled to Europe and for whom they have issued an arrest warrant. Mordechai Yona, who was not originally viewed as a suspect in the affair - which has left hundreds of homebuyers in limbo - was arrested and questioned under caution by police probing a plethora of criminal allegations surrounding Heftsiba's dramatic collapse. National Fraud Squad detectives raided Mordechai Yona's home in Jerusalem's Bet Hakerem neighborhood shortly after 7 a.m. Investigators confiscated documents and at least one computer before arresting the senior Yona and taking him to the Fraud Squad's Bat Yam headquarters. The Israel Securities Authority and the Israel Tax Authority assisted police in planning both the search and the interrogation. Yona was questioned for nearly 10 hours, and at one point - at the family's request - an ambulance was brought to the Bat Yam building in case Yona's health condition deteriorated. The former head of the Israeli Building Contractors' Association has been reported to be in poor health since the beginning of the collapse of the company he once ran. He founded the firm some 40 years ago. Last week, Yona was scheduled to attend hearings on freezing the bankruptcy proceedings while another company is sought to take over its assets, but at the last minute asked for permission to not attend due to health concerns. Yona has denied any knowledge of the alleged illegal doings of his son Boaz, who took over the company's reins years ago. But detectives believe that the truth is quite different. Police suspect that the senior Yona was at least aware of - and may have even played an active part in - the alleged shady dealings that buried the company deep in debt. Police in the Intelligence and Investigations Division said the charges against Mordechai Yona could include fraud, embezzlement, assisting in fraud and money-laundering related offenses, as well as criminal violations of the Securities Law. Twelve hours after the police raided Mordechai Yona's home, detectives brought him to the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, where they requested he be remanded to seven days of house arrest on NIS 1 million bail. Police said that if Yona's health was not so poor, they would have requested that he be remanded to jail to facilitate their investigation. Leaving the court, Yona said, "The only thing that is of interest to me are those who now remain homeless, not the police or the other authorities." He vowed to continue to work to solve the crisis created by the company's collapse "until my dying day."