London mogul accused of bribing Ramat Gan mayor

Emanuel Arbib allegedly paid Zvi Bar almost NIS 1m. to advance a real-estate project in which his company had substantial interest.

Zvi Bar 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of Ramat Gan municipality)
Zvi Bar 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of Ramat Gan municipality)
A London-based businessman was indicted over the weekend with handing Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar almost a million shekels in bribes to advance a lucrative real-estate project.
Emanuel Arbib, an Italian citizen and CEO of London-based investment firm Integrated Asset Management PLC, allegedly gave Bar bribes totaling NIS 977,743 to influence local planning committees to green-light the Beit Lir Or project, in which Arbib’s company Blantfort Investment Management Ltd had a substantial interest.
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Mayor since 1989, at the time of the alleged bribery Bar was chief the local Planning and Zoning Committee and a member of the District Building Committee, and was in a position of considerable influence, the indictment served in the Tel Aviv District Court charges.
Arbib is also charged with money-laundering. He allegedly concealed the bribe by disguising it as a £225,000 loan to Bar from London-based company Grove Property Finance Ltd.
Bar and his wife allegedly put their own London apartment up as collateral for that loan, and an agreement was drawn up setting the repayment period as 360 days at an interest rate of 7% above the current Barclays rate.
The indictment alleges that the money was transferred to Bar’s Israeli bank account, but that it was Arbib who began to repay it, transferring money from several bank accounts to Grove Property Finance, in violation of money-laundering laws.
The State Attorney’s Office also filed a request under the Prohibition of Money Laundering Act (2000) that the court confiscate a NIS 1.8 million Herzliya apartment owned by Arbib.
News of the alleged Ramat Gan corruption scandal first broke in April, when the State Attorney’s Office informed Bar he might be indicted, subject to a hearing, on a string of charges including fraud, income tax violations, money-laundering, breach of trust and accepting bribes from several real-estate entrepreneurs to advance projects in the city.
Following the indictment against Arbib, the Ramat Gan Municipality said that Bar did not intend to resign from his post as mayor and slammed the allegations against him as false.