Victims of Heftsiba bankruptcy unite

Over 1,000 families hurt by collapse of construction company form National Committee for Heftsiba Victims.

heftsiba victims 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
heftsiba victims 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
More than 1,000 families hurt by the collapse of construction company Heftsiba have formed the National Committee for Heftsiba Victims to coordinate the activities of those seeking to regain their losses. "United we have more power, we're heard and we can move things much faster," said Eran Laufer, a member of the five-person National Committee and the coordinator for families from Heftsiba's Kfar Yona project. The families organized a "nationwide organization of almost 1,500 families, and more join every day," he said. According to Mimi Nehemia, the coordinator for families in Ma'aleh Adumim, getting the thousands of homebuyers - some 4,000 housing units are under construction - has been complicated by the different situations of the projects and buyers. "Just in Ma'aleh Adumim, there are several projects at different stages," she said. "My project is four buildings that were just started and are still skeletons. There is another project of 17 buildings in which 15 are already inhabited, and in another the apartments are sold but construction hasn't even begun." The situation is further complicated by the different financial situation of the buyers. "Some were insured" through bank guarantees purchased by Heftsiba ahead of construction, as required by law, "and the rest are not," Nehemia said. "Some paid a little bit, others full price." The National Committee is coordinating media activities and meeting with MKs and other political leaders. On Monday morning, its members represented the homebuyers in the Knesset Finance Committee. The National Committee was consulting with lawyers, said Laufer, to develop a nationwide legal strategy. Besides failing to guarantee the purchases, as required by a 1974 law, Heftsiba did not properly handle the money it was paid, the homebuyers' group said. According to Nehemia: "Some [Heftsiba] office workers gave incorrect bank accounts [for homebuyer payments], and we may turn to the police about this. We're meeting with lawyers to see where we go from here." With a potential membership of 4,000 families, "people who work night and day to feed our families and took out a mortgage, together we can get into places, such as the Knesset, where we can't go alone," she said.