The information given to Israel as part of the extensive exchanges of information with European countries as a result of the CRS procedure is leading to more arrests and investigations. The Israel Tax Authority has arrested two more Israelis as a result of such information, following a large number of other recent arrests based on information obtained under the procedure.
The first new suspect, Tel Aviv resident Yuri Gecht, was arrested on suspicion of not reporting his income for 15 years (2004-2019) and holding bank accounts in Luxembourg and Switzerland. It is suspected that NIS 64 million was deposited in these account, and generated NIS 8 million in profits for Gecht. The arrest warrant indicates that Gecht did not report the accounts and the profits accumulated in them. After being questioned, Gecht was taken to a hearing on the conditions for his release. Tel Aviv Magistrates Court Judge Anat Yahav granted the petition by the Haifa and northern region investigative tax assessor and released Gecht under restrictive conditions, including a personal bond and bank guarantee.
The second suspect, Haifa resident Arie Levy, was arrested on suspicion of not reporting five accounts at different banks on the island of Jersey containing a total of NIS 12.8 million. Levy is suspected of not reporting the accounts from 2017 until the present, and of having concealed the interest income from them. Levy was brought to a hearing before Judge Gil Karseboom on the conditions for his release, and was released under restrictive conditions.
A flood of information
Last month, the Tax Authority arrested three Israelis - Tel Aviv resident Aharon Winkler and Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek residents Shai Tzur and Maya Benkov-Tzur - on suspicion of not reporting overseas bank accounts and other tax offenses. The suspects' names were included on a list of holders of accounts in an overseas bank received under agreements and exchanges of information between countries and tax authorities in Europe under the CRS procedure. These arrests were followed by that of Ramat Hasharon resident Barbara Slater, suspected of not reporting bank accounts in Canada containing NIS 3 million.
The investigations against the three suspects and other covert investigations currently taking place result from the implementation of the CRS regulations, in which Israel receives financial information about money and accounts of Israelis in Europe. This is part of international exchanges of information and the global trend in recent years towards more financial transparency and elimination of illegitimate tax shelters.
The Tax Authority is also receiving detailed information under the FATCA agreement, under which the Tax Authority has begun sending information about the financial assets of its US-affiliated citizens to the US Internal Revenue Service, and in exchange is receiving information about Israelis with bank accounts in the US.
Following these exchanges of information, a new wave of arrests of Israelis who did not report their accounts to the Tax Authority has begun.
Presumption of innocence: Yuri Gecht, Arie Levy, Aharon Winkler, Shai Tzur and Maya Benkov-Tzur are merely suspected of offenses. They have not been convicted of any crime, and are entitled to a presumption of innocence.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 18, 2019
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