The State Attorney Office Taxation and Economics has decided not to indict former Shikun & Binui Holdings Ltd. (TASE: SKBN) owner, Shari Arison, and Arison Investments chairman and CEO Efrat Peled, in the Shikun & Binui bribery affair. The two were represented by Adv. Nati Simchoni.
Already back in January 2021, "Globes" published an article stating that the investigation against Shari Arison is expected to close, based on the State Attorney’s stance that evidence is lacking in claiming she was aware that such bribery offences were being made by Shikun & Binui executives in the company’s projects in Africa. The State Attorney has thus rejected claims made by Israel Police and the Israel Securities Authority that there was evidence that tied Arison and Peled to the offences. Nir Zichlinskey CPA and others involved in the affair have also been notified that the case against them has been closed.
Shikun & Binui is currently undergoing a legal battle against the hearing that was supposed to have taken place months ago. The company’s hearing is the last in a series of 16 hearings that were held with the suspects in Shikun & Binui's bribery affair in Africa, after each of them had arrived in person for a hearing regarding their alleged involvement.
Allegations: A systemic, institutionalized, organized framework of bribery payments
The affair concerns events that were part of Shikun & Binui Group’s global activities between July 2008 and the opening of the investigation in February 2018. It is alleged that during this period, Shikun & Binui operated a systemic, institutionalized, and organized framework of bribery payments that were made to foreign public officials estimated at millions of shekels, in the countries in which it operated, in order to advance its business dealings and increase profits.
The bribes were allegedly part of a money laundering scheme and false reporting and registration made by the group’s former managers and employees, including its executives. It was alleged that a culture of bribery had benefitted Shikun & Binui financially on an immense scale.
As "Globes" has already reported, the State Attorney Taxation and Economics is inclined to press charges against the company’s executives and reject their claims during the hearing. The Shikun & Binui case is unique in that it has conclusive, clear-cut, and varied evidence pointing at the company’s culture of bribes worth enormous amounts, yet despite these it is difficult to base the case due to lack of documentation that records these bribes and the inability to trace this "culture" in detail and by actions. The company’s lawyers are expected to focus on this point too, in the hearing.
Weight will also be given to the fact that Shikun & Binui is a public company that has since changed hands in ownership and has a new management. Another crucial consideration is the fact that a conviction on the grounds of bribery may entail harmful implications for the company’s business dealings in foreign countries. Additionally, for the company itself, the criminal process may just be the first gunshot in a series of civic processes already waiting for the verdict in the criminal case.
Adv Nati Simchoni said about closing the case against Arison and Peled, "I was certain and confident of their absolute innocence from the outset, and I am happy to congratulate them on the closing of the matter."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 23, 2021.
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