Court slaps travel ban on Bezeq controlling owner amid fraud probe

Shaul Elovitz ordered to post NIS 5m ($1.4m) bail bond; director and financial chief of YES cable company placed under house arrest

Shaul Elovitch, Bezeq's controlling shareholder (Calcalist screenshot)
Shaul Elovitch, Bezeq's controlling shareholder (Calcalist screenshot)

Top figures in Israel’s communications industry, including the controlling share owner of Bezeq Communications, were handed court ordered travel bans on Wednesday, preventing them from leaving the country amid a major fraud probe.

Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court issued travel bans of six months to businessman and Bezeq mogul Shaul Elovitz, director of the YES television cable company Ron Ayalon, and the YES financial director Michal Neeman.

The restrictions were requested by the Israel Securities Authority as it continued an investigation focused on a major acquisition by Bezeq, the nation’s largest telecommunications operator, of shares in the YES satellite television company.

The court ruling came after the ISA leveled charges of fraud, breach of trust, corporate officers’ offenses, and obstruction of legal proceedings.

Elovitz was banished from the offices of his Eurocom Group and Bezeq and prohibited from contacting members of the directorate or other controlling figures in the companies until June 23. He was ordered to deposit a NIS 5 million ($1.4 million) bail bond.

Ayalon was placed under house arrest until June 23 and told to pay a bail bond of NIS 1.5 million ($420,000). Neeman, also under house arrest until June 23, was ordered to pay a NIS 700,000 ($198,000) bond.

The suspects were not present at the hearing, as they were being questioned at the ISA headquarters, the Marker reported.

Elovitz was also questioned on Tuesday, and investigators raided the Bezeq offices as well as those of YES.

At the center of the probe is the NIS 680 million ($193 million) cash acquisition of YES shares by Bezeq from Elovitz in 2015. As the majority share holder in Bezeq, Elovitz may have acted with a conflict of interest in the deal, the ISA suspects.

In its request, ISA specified that during the course of the investigation, many details came to light that back up the allegations against the suspects and that other suspects were also being questioned. The ISA noted that there is still much work to be done in the investigation.

Elovitz’s defense team said in a statement that their client was fully cooperating with the investigation and that “when the authorities examine the suspicions in-depth, they will reach the unequivocal conclusion that Elovitz acted impeccably,” but declined to comment on details of the case.

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