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Israeli Banker, Father Indicted in Money Fraud

June 14, 2002|From Associated Press

JERUSALEM — A bank official and her father were indicted Thursday in one of the biggest embezzlement, fraud and money laundering cases in Israeli history, allegedly taking the money to pay off the gambling debts of the woman's brother.

Over five years, Esther Alon and her father, Avigdor Maximov, stole about $50 million from the Trade Bank where she worked, to pay the debts of her brother, Ofer Maximov, the prosecution told the Tel Aviv District Court.

The case undermined Israeli public confidence in the banking system. Customers of the Trade Bank told reporters at the court that their accounts, savings and investments had been plundered by Alon. Shortly after the embezzlement was discovered, the Israeli government offered to cover at least 95% of the losses.

The defendants did not submit a plea Thursday, and their lawyers declined to comment.

Four other people were indicted Thursday in connection with the case. All four were owners of illegal gambling establishments where Ofer Maximov incurred debts.

The police hoped that the case would enable them to prosecute leading Israeli crime bosses, newspapers said Thursday.

"We think we have uncovered only a fraction of the things that were done, and we will keep investigating," prosecutor Ela Rubinek said.

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