Roman Abramovich, ZAKA sue Israeli bank over blocked donation

Roman Abramovich Photo: Reuters Artyom Geodakyan
Roman Abramovich Photo: Reuters Artyom Geodakyan

Mizrahi Tefahot Bank has refused to transfer a NIS 8 million donation to the search and rescue NGO due to EU sanctions.

Israeli-Russian businessman Roman Abramovich and NGO ZAKA today filed a lawsuit against Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (TASE: MZTF) following its refusal to transfer an NIS 8 million donation to ZAKA to help fund its wartime search and rescue operations. The bank refused to approve the donation after the European Court of Justice last week dismissed an appeal against freezing Abramovich's assets and the ban on his entry into the 27 countries of the EUת due to his being the owner (30%) of the Russian metals company Evraz.

In the lawsuit, Abramovich demands that as an Israeli citizen, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank is obligated to transfer the donation. The lawsuit states that the bank refused the request on the general grounds that Abramovich's account is blocked due to the sanctions imposed on him by the EU and the UK government, and therefore, according to the bank's approach, no activity of any kind can be performed by it.

To date, the Israeli government has not imposed sanctions against Abramovich or any of the Russian businesspeople subject to sanctions. In Abramovich's case, the US has also not imposed sanctions. His lawyers insist that, in view of this, the bank's position in blocking Abramovich's account due to sanctions, is a position that is "wrong and lacks any legal basis." It is important to note that Abramovich, an Israeli citizen, opened the bank account many years ago and the money he wanted to donate to ZAKA was then deposited into the account.

The lawsuit also states that, "Since October 7 ZAKA's volunteers have been working non-stop on a noble national mission. The dedicated volunteers left their homes, their jobs and their natural environment, in order to move around amid the horrific scenes along the Gaza border and throughout the southern region and perform the most difficult task of locating and collecting the bodies of the victims, many of whom are in a horrifying physical condition."

On top of that, ZAKA's resources and equipment warehouses have been completely depleted. The organization also needs to run a mental health program for its volunteers who have been exposed to difficult, horrific and inhumane events and sights, even by the standards in which ZAKA normally operates.

Abramovich's lawyers Advs. Shmuel Cassuto and Bella Peled stress in the lawsuit: "It is unthinkable that at the most difficult time of the country, of Zionism, at a time when everyone is mobilizing and fighting, both on the warfront and the home-front, Mizrachi Tefahot Bank is blocking such a vital donation to one of the most important enterprises in our community."

Mizrahi Tefahot Bank said, "We cannot comment on specific customers, for reasons of banking confidentiality. As soon as a lawsuit is filed, we will present our position in court."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on December 27, 2023.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.

Roman Abramovich Photo: Reuters Artyom Geodakyan
Roman Abramovich Photo: Reuters Artyom Geodakyan
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