The Tel Aviv District Court has ordered the temporary seizure of assets totaling NIS 90 million of the former top executives of Israeli insurtech company Vesttoo, former CEO Yaniv Bertele, former CPO Alon Lifshitz, who still serves as a director and two former employees. Bertele and Lifshitz are still shareholders in Vesttoo. Apartments and other assets were impounded rather than bank accounts.
The assets were seized at Vesttoo's request in a relatively rare legal proceeding, in which a court in Israel recognized an insolvency proceeding in the US, and ruled that it could be considered a secondary legal proceeding, and allowed measures to be imposed under Israel's Insolvency Law.
As part of these proceedings, Vesttoo is demanding from its former executives to return to it about NIS 770 million.
Vesttoo claims that according to the findings of an independent probe conducted by international investigative agencies, the company's former executives and other employees committed serious acts of fraud and forgery, while misleading the insurance companies and sub-insurers, the company's board of directors and its employees. It is claimed that the executives forged letters from leading banking institutions, so that it would appear as if they were carrying significant collateral with them, and even posed as representatives of a fictitious bank named "Alex Garcia," which they allegedly created.
Vesttoo CEO Ami Barlev said, "The court's unilateral approval of the requested temporary reliefs confirms the results of the company's investigation against Bertele, Lifshitz, the two former employees and the company's service provider. The request for temporary relief was supported by a lot of evidence, from which the district court learned unequivocally that the evidence presented supports the findings of the investigation conducted by the company.
"This request for temporary relief is part of a broader legal process that will be discussed later according to the legal procedures, but the fact that the judge imposed these seizure of assets and on such a significant scale - this is the essence from our point of view and the proof that the investigation provided conclusive evidence."
Vesttoo is represented by Advs. Shmuel Cassouto, Ronen Buch and attorney Gal Klauzner of Cassouto & Co. law offices.
Advs. Tal Shapira and Meirav Bar-Zik of Tel Zur & Co. law firm said on behalf of Bertele, "The request in question, as well as the decision given in it, were not presented to Bartele at all and as is repeated in this case, they were leaked to the media before they were presented.
"The request for instructions on which the request for relief is based is an mute request that lacks any factual and legal basis, which was illegally submitted as an interim request within the framework of insolvency proceedings in a clear and transparent attempt to avoid paying a fee, and should be rejected outright, along with the request for seizure that was submitted alongside it.
"The ruling, which was not known to Bertele, was handed down unilaterally, without Bertele being given the opportunity to respond to the issues, and it goes without saying that Bertele's full position in relation to the groundless claims made in it, as well as the flawed and biased investigative procedure at its core, will be submitted to the court."
Alon Lifshitz's attorney Adv. Netanel Haim from Agmon and Tulchinsky law firm said, "The documents have just been handed to them, and they will study them and respond to the court. However, it can already be said that the court has rejected most of the requests for temporary seizures, and for good reason. This is a procedure without any legal and factual basis, and we are convinced that the court will reject the procedure in its entirety after hearing our claims.
"To add to that and worst of all - this is a procedure that is completely controlled by those who are in a sharp conflict of interest like no other, who served as directors of the company throughout the relevant period and are now trying to clear themselves artificially by filing pointless procedures."
Presumption of innocence: Yaniv Bertele, Alon Lifshitz, the two former Vesttoo employees and the service provider to the company have not been convicted of any offense and have the right to be presumed innocent.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 19, 2023.
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