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Bar Refaeli probed for tax fraud, must get permission to leave the country

Gag order lifted on case of supermodel, who was questioned for 12 hours Wednesday; authorities allege she falsely claimed not to live in Israel, failed to report ‘tens of millions of shekels’ in benefits

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, in Cannes in 2011. (Shutterstock)
Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, in Cannes in 2011. (Shutterstock)

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli is being investigated for potential tax offenses, including allegedly trying to avoid tax by falsely claiming not to be living in Israel, Hebrew-language media reported on Thursday. The reports came after the lifting of a Wednesday gag order that had sent gossip-mongers into overdrive.

Refaeli, who spent 12 hours in questioning at the Tax Authority offices in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, was initially said to be suspected of failing to report over NIS 1 million (some $250,000) in celebrity benefits. Later Thursday, however, reports said the allegations concerned “tens of millions” of shekels. She also allegedly sought to avoid tax by falsely claiming not to be living in Israel.

Refaeli, who denies any criminal offense, has been required to get the authorities’ permission if she wishes to leave the country.

Refaeli is suspected of not reporting that she had someone else pay her rent at an apartment at the luxury W high-rises in Tel Aviv; underpaying an interior designer in exchange for helping him with advertising; and receiving a free car from a company, also in exchange for help with advertising, according to news site Ynet.

Refaeli’s mother was also reported to be involved in the case.

The model, whose scads of campaigns for various companies has made her one of Israel’s most recognizable faces on the world stage, is also a mainstay of celebrity websites and gossip rags in Israel and the US.

But her career and jet-setting lifestyle may be cramped by the investigation.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court determined Thursday that Refaeli can leave Israel only in coordination with authorities and after depositing a sum of NIS 250,000. A third party would also have to put up a guarantee of NIS 500,000, Ynet reported.

Earlier Thursday, while the supermodel’s name was still under gag order, some Hebrew-language news sites tried to circumvent it by providing hints for observant readers.

An article on news site Bizportal, captured and posted on Facebook, featured a top-down acrostic of Refaeli’s name in Hebrew.

News site Walla, while not giving Refaeli’s name in its article, nevertheless tagged the supermodel in publishing the piece.

Giora Aderet, Refaeli’s attorney, denied the suspicions against the supermodel and her mother.

“There is no drama. In the end, this is just a civil dispute. No one cheated anyone else. It will all clear up soon,” Aderet told the NRG news site.

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