Former president Shimon Peres has reportedly signed a $30,000-per-month contract with Bank Hapoalim to act as a lobbyist to promote the bank’s objectives overseas.
According to a report Monday in the business daily The Marker, the move to improve Hapoalim’s image abroad may help Israel’s largest lender prepare to battle local legislation aimed at increasing competition in the banking sector that finance-minister-to-be Moshe Kahlon is expected to push in the coming Knesset.
During and after the recent election campaign, Kahlon called on Israel’s banks to divest their credit card businesses and reduce the high fees charged to customers.
Citing sources close to Peres, the report said all of the former president’s profits will be donated to charities or social justice projects and that his promotion of the bank abroad would advance dialogue, peace and Israel as a “start-up nation.”
Peres’s lawyer emphasized that the contract was only for the promotion of the bank’s overseas business and said it did not include any lobbying or legislative initiatives relating to Bank Hapoalim within Israel.
Next month, Peres is slated to attend the bank’s 40th-anniversary celebration of its US operations in New York City together with former mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The report comes amid an ongoing investigation by the US Department of Justice into whether Israel’s major banks assisted their American customers to evade US tax authorities.