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David Ezra, father-in-law of Bar Refaeli, suspected of smuggling 475,000 euros

Chairman of food conglomerate Neto Group tells Tax Authority money was intended for contractors working on a vacation home he bought in Greece

Model Bar Refaeli poses for photographers upon arrival at the Dior ready-to-wear Fall-Winter 2019-2020 collection in Paris, February 26, 2019. (Thibault Camus/AP)
Model Bar Refaeli poses for photographers upon arrival at the Dior ready-to-wear Fall-Winter 2019-2020 collection in Paris, February 26, 2019. (Thibault Camus/AP)

Israeli model Bar Refaeli’s father-in-law, David Ezra, was given conditional release Monday after he was held on suspicion of smuggling more than 475,000 euros ($508,118) abroad.

Judge Amir Shaked of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court freed Ezra, chairman of food conglomerate Neto Group, on condition of a NIS 500,000 bail, a third-party guarantee of NIS 100,000, and a stay of exit order to prevent him from leaving the country for 90 days.

Ezra, 72, had left for Greece for the Shavuot holiday weekend and was stopped by airport security after a suitcase of his was found to contain 475,000 euros in cash. He told Tax Authority investigators it was a payment for contractors working on a vacation home he had purchased in Greece.

The Tax Authority reported that during his interrogation, Ezra admitted he was aware that the money had to be declared when leaving the country, but claimed he did not know where to declare the funds when he was leaving.

Defense attorney Yoav Sananes said Ezra is cooperating with the investigation.

Ezra is the father of Adi Ezra, who is Refaeli’s husband and CEO of Neto Group, since his father transferred his controlling share of the group to his son.

Israeli top model Bar Refaeli, right, and her mother, Tzipi Rafaeli wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic as they leave a courtroom in Tel Aviv, September 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, Pool)

The investigation of Refaeli’s father-in-law comes a year after her mother, Tzipi Refaeli, was released from prison after serving half of a 16-month jail sentence for tax evasion.

Both mother and daughter were sentenced in September 2020, ending a prolonged tax evasion case that had sullied the image of a once-beloved national icon.

They were convicted of offenses of evading paying taxes on income nearing $10 million. Bar Refaeli was ordered to nine months of community service, and both women were ordered to pay a NIS 2.5 million ($1.5 million) fine on top of millions in back taxes owed to the state.

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