Israel’s Largest Bank Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Tax Evasion & Money Laundering

Israel’s Largest Bank Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Tax Evasion & Money Laundering

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Bank Hapoalim is Israel’s largest bank with branches located all over the world. The most lucrative branch is the one located in Switzerland. For 15 years the Bank’s executives conspired with wealthy Americans to shield $8 billion in secret accounts from the Internal Revenue Service. The Bank’s top executives hid their own fortunes in these secret Swiss bank accounts. The Bank helped thousands of customers open accounts in the names of pseudonyms, code names, trust accounts, and offshore nominee entities. The Bank processed transactions in amounts of less than $10,000 drawn on the accounts of U.S. taxpayers and entities in order to avoid having to report large currency transactions.

In 2009 the Justice Department cracked down on big banks that hid American gelt in Swiss bank accounts. UBS was fined $780 million for assisting tax evaders. The Justice Department investigated 100 banks, which led to the end of banking secrecy laws in Switzerland that protected American tax evaders.

In spite of the Federal crackdown on Swiss bank accounts and Swiss bankers, Bank Hapoalim was not deterred from committing numerous acts of fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, kickbacks and bribery over a period of time from 2002 until 2015.

Top executives at Bank Hapoalim conspired with World Cup soccer officials to pay $20 million in bribes for advertising rights to soccer matches. The plea agreement entered into between Bank Hapoalim and the Department of Justice didn’t list the names of the Israeli executives of Bank Hapoalim who paid bribes to South American soccer officials. The names of the soccer officials were all listed in the plea agreement. Bank officials bribed and paid kickbacks to Hugo Jinkis, Mariano Jinkis, Rafael Esquivel, Luis Bedoya, Eugenio Figueredo, Sergio Jadue, Luis Chiriboga, and others. The bank opened up accounts for soccer officials where millions of dollars in bribes were wired.

The Bank’s plea agreement had the standard form language that you will find on any plea agreement, including my plea agreement. The Feds calculated the Federal Sentencing Guidelines numbers on the Bank plea agreement. The base number calculated was 32, which translates into about 150 months of incarceration. My guidelines numbers calculated into about 48 months of incarceration. The Judge cut me a break and only sentenced me to 20 months in Club Fed in Otisville.

The plea agreement set forth the details of the Bank’s numerous criminal acts. The Feds attached transcripts of a wiretap between an Israeli Bank executive and his wife that show that he knew he was committing crimes for many years. The bank executive’s names are not disclosed. The bank executives are referred to as “co-conspirator.” The names of the Spanish World Cup soccer officials are fully disclosed. Below is the wiretap transcript:

“Spouse: Hi.

Co-Conspirator 1: What’s up?

Spouse: Hi.

Co-Conspirator 1: I’m f****d.

Spouse: What?

Spouse: Oof

Co-Conspirator 1: Have you seen what I was telling you, today I was looking at the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) thing, I told you something about FIFA, right?

Spouse: No, you said they sued Eugenio Figueredo

Co-Conspirator 1: And the one who’s stuck in the mess is Hugo. And, since there were wiretaps on the phone, the US government and you can imagine! It came out in the news. In I don’t know what newspaper. So it seems to me that I’ll dedicate myself to my ranch.

Spouse: Yeah, but he’s not involved in this big mess.

Co-Conspirator 1: In the money laundering yes, in helping the laundering, in a way, because it’s, let’s say they’re accused of corruption, of receiving bribes. And the bribes were given by…

Spouse: Ahhhh. Of course. Yes, because they said there that it was, including things, what was it? Chronic ones too.

Co-Conspirator 1: Just yesterday, the department of compliance in Switzerland, after 3 months authorized the seizing of an account that’s linked to FIFA.”

The Feds never went to the effort to wiretap my cell phone. The Feds indicted me and gave me the option of either going to trial or pleading guilty and going to jail. If I went to trial and lost I would face more jail time than I would get if I pleaded guilty. I don’t know if that would have happened but I am not a gambling man. I decided to take the deal. Some of my co-conspirators who went to trial got less time than if they pleaded guilty. Some got more time.

Bank Hapolim was represented by the top lawyers in the world: Debevoise & Plimpton and Sullivan & Cromwell. I had a friend who went to Yale Law School and spent a summer working at Debevoise. My friend invited me to a couple of their parties. It was the first time in my life I went to a party in a penthouse apartment in Greenwich Village. The lawyers drank and ate like khazirs. The penthouse was as big as football field. These guys had the entire rooftop. My friend worked in a little cubicle from about 9 in the morning until about 11 at night. They ordered in food for the associates and had limos drive them home at night. Some slept in the office, with other associates or other partners, while their wives or husbands were sleeping at home. It was all work and all sex. If you wanted to become a partner you needed to sleep with the right person. Sometimes the young male associates had to sleep with the older female Harvey Weinstein partner. The life of the white shoe law firm. Stuff they don’t teach you in law school.

The Feds gave the executives at Bank Hapolim two choices. Either have the Bank entity plead guilty and pay $875 in fines and penalties or plead not guilty and all the executives get charged individually and go to trial and face jail time. The Bank executives chose door number one and picked the “deferred prosecution agreement.” The Bank executives didn’t get charged. The Bank executives didn’t go to jail. The Bank pleaded guilty. The Bank lawyers signed the “deferred prosecution agreement.” The Bank executives who committed years of crime, costing the American taxpayers almost a billion dollars, are incognito. Only the lawyers at the Justice Department knows their names. American taxpayers will never know the names of these criminals. No perp walks for these guys. These criminals will keep their Park Avenue apartments, yachts, Swiss villas and Tel Aviv penthouses. The Bank will pay the fines and penalties and take a tax write-off.

The only people who know the names of these lowlife corporate fraudsters are Geoffrey Berman, the top US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and his underlings US Attorneys Laura Grossfield Birger, Richard Zuckerman, Todd Ellinwood, Sagar Ravi and Timothy Capozzi. When will Americans question the “wisdom” of the most powerful law enforcement agency in the world? There are countless scholarly articles that argue that these deferred prosecution agreements fail to deter corporate fraud and allow corporations to buy their way out of jail. It’s unfortunate that American citizens don’t read any of these scholarly articles, and would rather read the Larry Noodles blog. You can’t expect the lawyers at the Justice Department to read these scholarly articles. FUHGETABOUTIT! “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton.

The preservation and protection of the law is categorically given over to those whose interests are best served by the elimination of those laws. The U.S. Forest Service sells off our national forests to the timber industry. Ex-industry lobbyists are routinely placed in Cabinet or regulatory positions to short-circuit governmental oversight. The FDA becomes a legal services advisor to corporate lawsuit defendants. The Bankruptcy Reform Act rewrote the rules to favor the major credit card companies. The Justice Department cuts big corporations and institutions a break, while the low level criminals, mostly poor minorities, fill up the prisons, feeding a multi billion dollar prison industry of prison contractors, food vendors, telephone companies, utilities, prison employees, US attorneys, etc…

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