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Jailed tycoon Nochi Dankner wins early parole

Former controlling shareholder of IDB had his three-year sentence for massive financial fraud commuted by President Rivlin earlier this month

Former IDB Group chairman Nochi Dankner (center) seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on April 23, 2018, as he arrives for his appeal of his conviction for stock manipulation. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former IDB Group chairman Nochi Dankner (center) seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on April 23, 2018, as he arrives for his appeal of his conviction for stock manipulation. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israel Prisons Service Parole Board approved on Thursday a parole request from jailed tycoon Nochi Dankner that could see him released from prison in the coming days, after having served over 2.5 years for massive financial fraud.

The former controlling shareholder of IDB Holding Corp, Dankner is serving a three-year sentence for stock manipulation and other offenses. IDB had accrued millions of dollars in debt following a series of bad business deals, when Dankner, desperately trying to keep his company’s share price up, carried out millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent transactions by the time control of IDB was wrested from him by the courts.

After his conviction in 2016, he was initially set to serve two years in prison, but the Supreme Court in 2018 tacked on another year when he appealed the sentence, citing his central role in the company’s fraudulent behavior as undermining the public faith in the securities markets.

Earlier this month, President Reuven Rivlin agreed to commute Dankner’s sentence by four months due to unspecified health issues. Those months were added to the one-year suspended sentence handed to Dankner.

Shortly after Rivlin’s January 13 decision, Dankner filed a formal request for early parole, citing good behavior and health issues.

Former IDB Group chairman Nochi Dankner arrives at the Ma’asiyahu Prison in Lod to serve his three year sentence on October 2, 2018. (Flash90)

He began serving his sentence on October 2, 2018, and was to remain in prison until October 2021. Between the four commuted months and early parole, he is now able to be released in the coming days, parole officials said.

Dankner, a favorite of Israel’s business community, was often credited with helping rescue the country’s economy at the height of the Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s. Under his leadership, IDB became Israel’s largest holding company and Dankner a celebrity.

The Parole Board cited his “contrition…and the process of rehabilitation he underwent in the therapy he received during his time in prison. He expressed understanding that the crimes he was convicted of were serious crimes.”

Dankner told the board at his hearing Thursday that he “acted foolishly…. All my life I was a law-abiding man, honest and fair, believed in the law and in the courts.”

The state prosecution agreed to the early release, officials said.

Dankner’s early release has a few conditions. He must be in his home every night, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., during the initial period out of prison.

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