Incoming central bank governor denies shoplifting allegation

Jacob Frenkel says he’s confident he’ll take up the post as scheduled

Intended next Bank of Israel governor Jacob Frenkel said Friday he fully expected to take office in October as scheduled despite reports that an incident of alleged shoplifting in Hong Kong seven years ago would be considered by the committee charged with vetting his appointment.

Frenkel said the matter was “an unfortunate incident” that “stemmed from a misunderstanding” and that ended with an apology to him from the Hong Kong authorities. He reportedly was briefly stopped after an incident involving perfume taken from a duty free store at Hong Kong Airport.

Army Radio quoted sources in the committee headed by former Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel as also assessing that Frenkel’s appointment to succeeed Stanley Fischer would proceed as scheduled. The committee is set to examine various matters relating to Frenkel’s appointment early next week, the radio report said.

Last month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid chose Frenkel, who headed the Bank of Israel for almost a decade between 1991 and 2000 and who currently heads the prestigious banking firm JPMorgan Chase, as the man to replace Fischer at the helm of Israel’s top economic institution.

Educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Chicago, the 70-year-old economist has held a number of key positions in top international firms, including AIG and Merrill Lynch. He has also worked in leading international finance organizations, including the International Monetary Fund. He won the Israel Prize for economics in 2002.

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