Delivery company Wolt suspected of tax fraud worth NIS 33.5 million

Corporation’s operations chief in Israel detained over allegations he used fictitious invoices to write off large sums

Wolt couriers in downtown Jerusalem, October 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Wolt couriers in downtown Jerusalem, October 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The delivery company Wolt is suspected by the Israel Tax Authority of committing tax fraud worth tens of millions of shekels.

The corporation’s chief operating officer in Israel, Eliya Ohad Yosefyan, was detained on Monday at the request of the tax authority and released under restrictive conditions by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.

The request made by the authority described Yosefyan as a “central figure in the operations of Wolt Enterprise” and alleges he acted fraudulently by using fictitious invoices, provided by a company called “TBO,” to help Wolt evade tax payments.

According to financial outlet Calcalist, invoice companies like TBO are common in the courier industry. At least some of the invoices issued to Wolt are suspected of representing transactions that never took place or of having their value fraudulently inflated.

The fake transactions allegedly amounted to NIS 230 million ($61.97 million), allowing the company to write off NIS 33.5 million ($9.02 million), the report said.

The authority added that it is suspected that Wolt has been consistently committing other tax-related offenses.

Wolt contractors protest in the center of Jerusalem to demand better working conditions, January 11, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In a statement, Wolt said: “We always operate according to the law, adhering to strict international standards. Of course, we are cooperating with the authority and providing the information we have regarding the involved parties.”

The Finnish company’s couriers are not employed directly by the company but are instead considered freelancers, choosing how much and when to work.

Wolt has been criticized for this business model as the delivery giant is often not held to account when the couriers’ rights are infringed upon.

A series of investigative reports by Ynet in recent years showed that couriers sometimes chose to work through contractors who often did not pay them their full salaries or protect their rights as employees, and even committed tax-related offenses themselves.

Wolt said they stopped hiring couriers who work through contractors in 2022. However, Ynet reported that the practice continued afterward as well.

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