A woman who embezzled television provider YES out of NIS 34 million (some $10 million) several years back has been out of prison for over a year now, but investigators are still stumped as to where all the money went, Channel 12 news reported this week.
Pazit Vald, a former accountant for YES, was arrested in 2014 for the the huge theft, after writing hundreds of checks over a 14-year period to the account of a fictitious company allegedly providing services to YES, from which she would then withdraw the funds for her own purposes.
Friends said she would go an lavish shopping sprees, sometimes spending tens of thousands of shekels a day, buying top fashion brands, flying first class to expensive excursions abroad and moving her family to a penthouse in Herzliya. Her friends believed the money was her husband’s. Her immediate family was reportedly unaware of her actions, though it is not clear where they believed the funds originated.
Nobody suspected fraud.
“She’s a quiet type, shy, pleasant, very generous,” one friend told the network. “The most honest person I ever met. Everyone trusted her, including the senior managers overseeing her.”
Eventually internal reviews exposed that funds were missing, however, and the investigation quickly led to Vald. She was arrested and eventually sentenced to seven years behind bars, but police could not track down the vast majority of the funds: they were not in the accounts, and Vald’s house, expensive cars, clothes and jewelry amounted to a few million shekels, but were far short of the sum she had stolen.
Investigations also could not locate any properties, and probes into other relatives also found nothing.
Vald is reported to have cooperated with the investigations, but it is not clear how she explained the money’s disappearance. According to Channel 12 she told police she was “addicted to shopping” and had gotten “drawn into it.”
In jail Vald was described as a model prisoner who quickly adjusted to life behind bars and became a favorite of other prisoners and staff.
Vald was released from prison in 2019 after a third of her sentence was reduced for good behavior. The tax authority is seeking NIS 7.5 million from her for tax evasion, while YES has filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages, also in the millions.
She continues to claim she does not have that money. According to Channel 12, she and her husband have begun bankruptcy procedures as they say they have no hope of paying back the sums being demanded.
She now works for a large catering company, where she is said to be once again well liked.
“She’s a very good employee. She gets lots of credit from her superiors, they’re very happy with her, they trust her, so much so that she’s even in charge of paying service providers,” an unnamed associate said.
“She works hard for every shekel she makes. They days of shopping are over… She wants the YES chapter of her life to come to an end.”