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Egyptian bank claims it part-owns Israel’s King David Hotel

After being swindled by Israeli-Arab attorney, Banque Misr renews legal bid to regain stock holding in country’s most prestigious hotel

Jerusalem's King David hotel. (Michal Fattal/ Flash90)
Jerusalem's King David hotel. (Michal Fattal/ Flash90)

An Egyptian bank has filed a lawsuit to reclaim its shares in Jerusalem’s luxurious King David Hotel, bought before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Calcalist daily reported on Monday.

The bank, government-owned Banque Misr, submitted a lawsuit at the Jerusalem District Court through Israeli lawyers Ron Yeshayahu and Gil Makov demanding the restoration of 1,000 stocks in the hotel which it owned in the past.

The iconic King David Hotel, the hotel of choice for visiting heads of state and many other VIP guests, was built at the initiative of Jewish Egyptian businessmen in 1929.

Egypt’s Zilka Bank, which also invested in its construction, was allotted 1,000 shares when it opened. In the 1960s Zilka Bank was merged with another bank when then-Egyptian president Jamal Abdel Nasser nationalized all Egyptian banks, establishing Banque Misr.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka speak after signing an intergovernmental agreement, at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on November 25, 2014. (Photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka speak after signing an intergovernmental agreement, at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on November 25, 2014. (Photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Banque Misr has 500 branches in Egypt and other countries.

Over the years ownership of the King David Hotel has passed through several hands. Today it is owned by the network of Dan hotels.

Banque Misr first made its claim for stocks in the hotel in 2008, after Israeli-Arab lawyer Ashraf Jasser alerted the bank to the fact that it still deserved ownership of hotel shares.

The Egyptian bank appointed Jasser to file a lawsuit on its behalf, but the lawyer ended up swindling the bank, claiming that filing the suit required court fees of NIS 10 million ($2.6 million). After receiving the money, Jasser filed the lawsuit – paying the actual NIS 975 ($258) fee – and pocketed the remainder of the money.

For this and other acts of fraud, Jasser was convicted in the Haifa District Court two years ago and sentenced to nine years in prison.

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