Shikun & Binui Holdings Ltd. (TASE: SKBN) controlling shareholder Shari Arison was questioned this morning in the offices of the 433 police national fraud squad in Lod as part of an alleged bribery affair. Arison, Israel's richest woman, was questioned along with Arison Investments chairperson and CEO Efrat Peled.
The affair is an international one involving bribery by Shikun & Binui, a construction company that builds both in Israel and abroad. Alleged offenses included bribes supposedly paid to representatives of a foreign government. It is suspected that the bribes were designed to enable the company to obtain construction projects amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in Kenya and other countries. The current questioning is part an investigation begun in February 2018. At this stage, the police are investigating how high in the Shikun & Binui and Arison groups the alleged bribery reached and whether the bribery being investigated was brought to the attention of controlling shareholder Shari Arison and her associates in the group.
Shikun & Binui chairperson Moshe Lahmani was arrested last month and questioned on suspicion of involvement in the bribery affair. Suspects previously questioned were questioned again, including former Shikun & Binui CEO Ofer Kotler, former chairperson Ravit Barniv, and SBI-Solel Boneh foreign countries CEO Rony Paluch.
It is suspected that Shikun & Binui executives bribed a foreign employee in Kenya to promote its projects in that country.
The investigation, which has continued with a low profile in recent months recently took a new turn when the police investigation was joined by investigators of the Israel Securities Authority, with a new open stage of the investigation beginning.
Those questioned to date are suspected of bribery of a foreign public employees, false registration in corporate documents, fraud, violations of the Securities Law, and other offenses.
The investigation initially focused on bribery in Africa, but was expanded in recent months to include other countries, including in South America. Israel Police, the Securities Authority, international law enforcement authorities, and the State Attorney's Office (taxation and economics) are cooperating in the investigation.
Shikun & Binui's share price was down 3% today, after rising 16% over the past three months.
Shikun & Binui said, "Shari Arison and Efrat Peled were summoned to the Lahav 433 offices and cooperated fully and feel assured and certain that there was no flaw in their conduct and that will also be the conclusion of the law enforcement agencies. Arison Group has zero tolerance for unbecoming conduct. The Group, has worked, works and will work to implement the highest standards in all their endeavors and investments in Israel and worldwide - and will continue to do so with added value for the benefit of the economy, society and the environment.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 12, 2018
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