Details emerge of Maiman's Peruvian state-witness deal

Yosef Maiman

Josef Maiman, who will testify against former President Alejandro Toledo, can stay in Israel, but cannot change his address without permission from the Peruvian police.

New information about the state witness agreement signed by Israeli businessman Josef Maiman in Peru is being revealed. Maiman can continue living in his Herzliya home, but cannot change his address without permission from the Peruvian police, and will have to appear at the Peruvian embassy in Tel Aviv every 60 days. Under the agreement, Maiman will testify against former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo in three major bribery and money laundering affairs, while being granted immunity from criminal prosecution in Peru.

Advocate Julio Mazuelos, Maiman's Peruvian lawyer, confirmed to Peruvian newspaper El Comercio that Maiman had indeed signed an agreement with the general prosecutor in Peru, and had undertaken to provide information and particulars about these and other affairs, as required, including particulars of bribes received by the suspects, the keeping of bank accounts, creation of (apparently fictitious) companies, and the purchase of real estate.

According to the Peruvian press, the court hearing the case has agreed to waive the arrest warrant issued for Maiman (18 months before trial) in exchange for minor restrictions that will allow him to continue living at home. Peru will also ask Interpol to vacate the arrest warrant for Maiman issued at its request.

Will Toledo be extradited?

Toledo, who served as president of Peru in 2001-2006, and Maiman, who grew up in Peru and is referred to there as an "Israeli-Peruvian businessman," were good friends. Maiman was the one who introduced Toledo to the latter's wife, Israeli-Belgian Eliane Karp. The evidence that Maiman provides, however, will probably result in the filing of criminal charges against the couple and others.

The investigation in Peru is taking place in a general atmosphere of uprooting corruption. Scandals of many years' standing involving the use of bribes to win tenders are being headlined and investigated to popular acclaim. Current Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard is making every effort to show that he has disavowed the questionable ethics of some of his predecessors. Among other things, a Peruvian congressional commission, called the Carwash Commission, has been formed to root out corruption.

Maiman has undertaken to testify in three affairs. The most important concerns a bribe that enabled Brazilian infrastructure company Odebrecht to win a tender for the construction of a system of high-speed roads between Brazil and Peru. The affair was revealed when another state witness, who managed Odebrecht's business in Peru, told about a meeting with many participants at a hotel in Rio de Janeiro, where Maiman and others bargained with him and other Odebrecht representatives about the amount of the bribe. They demanded $30 million, and agreement was eventually reached on $20 million. Maiman is also suspected of being the conduit through which Toledo was given $11 million of this amount.

Another affair concerns a different Brazilian infrastructure company, Camargo Correa, which also used a bribe to ensure its success in a tender for paving a superhighway. The State Prosecutor in Peru discovered a $91,667 bank transfer from the account of the Trade Center Financial company to the account of the Trailbridge company in London. A check revealed that Trade Center Financial belonged to Camargo Correa, while Trailbridge belonged to Maiman. The Peruvian State Prosecutor's Office suspects that this money was part of a bribe paid by the Brazilian company to Toledo. Maiman has also undertaken to testify about this affair.

The third affair, known as Ecoteva, has to do with the purchase of a luxury home and offices in Lima, Peru by Eva Fernenbug, Toledo's mother-in-law.

The money for buying these properties was transferred to the buyers from two companies: one in Costa Rica and the other in Panama. Most of it was from a company named Ecotera. It was discovered that the two companies were related to Maiman, and Toledo claimed at the time, "This was business between Yossi Maiman and my mother-in-law." Maiman is now expected to testify that the money was a bribe paid to Toledo and laundered through him and Toledo's mother-in-law.

The state's witness agreement with Maiman is a big achievement for the Peruvian general State Prosecutor. Toledo currently lives in the US, and up until now, the extradition request submitted by Peru to the US Department of Justice has been turned down, because no connection between Toledo and unexplained sums of money has been proved. The Peruvian State Prosecutor's Office now hopes that it will be able to provide the necessary proof.

Investigations and debts

Maiman, who has largely kept his business out of the limelight in recent years, was formerly one of the most prominent figures in the Israeli business community, and his Independence Day parties were used by that community as one of its conference locations. He was also among the founders of Channel 10 (he still owns 33% of the shares in the channel), and was the architect of the agreement with Egypt for the supply of Egyptian natural gas to Israel.

Around the time that the investigations began in Peru and Israel, Ampal-American Israel Corporation, a company controlled by Maiman, went bankrupt. In a casual conversation at that time, Maiman referred lightly to the NIS 1 billion debt the company owned to its bondholders, saying, "Am I to blame for what happened to the gas pipeline in Egypt? I've stopped listening to the media."

EMG, in which Maiman was a partner through Ampal and Merhav Group, bought natural gas from the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), and supplied it to Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22) through a pipeline build from El Arish to Ashkelon.

The company won this tender with a bid of $2.75 per heating unit in 2001, a low bid that aroused astonishment, and was mentioned in the trial of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. In 2011, during the revolution in Egypt, the supply of gas to Israel was halted, following a series of explosions at pipelines in Sinai. Ampal's business declined as a result, and an ugly dispute between Maiman and Ampal's creditors began. As the controlling shareholder in Ampal, Maiman was known to have one of the largest debts tobondholders.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on August 30, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

Yosef Maiman
Yosef Maiman
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