Two Israeli men were arrested last week on suspicion that they had evaded paying more than NIS 500 million ($160 million) worth of taxes and laundered large sums of money over the course of a decade, Israeli tax authorities announced on Tuesday.
Jackie Mor, 59, of Even Yehuda, and Avner Shafir, 52, of Netanya, were detained along with 15 others in connection with the investigation, which was given the name “Fragile Cipher.” The two alleged ringleaders were also charged with fraud, forgery, extortion and exploitation.
The two men, who are brothers with different last names, ran a business renting engineering equipment for road paving, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. They are suspected of distributing fictional invoices via shell companies through which they funneled the cash and avoided paying their legal dues.
Mor and Shafir were arrested by authorities last Monday. Fifteen apartments and nine luxury cars were seized along with engineering equipment on suspicion that they were purchased with embezzled funds. A search of the apartments yielded approximately NIS 4.5 million in cash.
The men’s counsel, Benny Katz, denied the charges. Mor and Shafir’s relatives told Yedioth that the two were generous people who devoted their lives to the needy and didn’t take a single shekel for their own needs.
“They are hard-working people who earned their bread through hard work and honesty,” they were quoted as saying.