Justice minister said to OK pardon request for jailed tycoon Nochi Dankner
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Justice minister said to OK pardon request for jailed tycoon Nochi Dankner

President now reportedly set to consider whether to grant clemency to former IDB Holding Corp chief, who is serving 3-year term for securities offenses

Former chairman of IDB Group Nochi Dankner seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on April 23, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former chairman of IDB Group Nochi Dankner seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on April 23, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Justice Minister Amir Ohana signed off on a pardon request for a businessman imprisoned on securities-related offenses, Channel 13 news reported Friday.

Nochi Dankner’s request was now set to go before President Reuven Rivlin, according to the network. The president has final say on granting pardons.

Danker, the former controlling shareholder of IDB Holding Corp, is serving a three-year sentence for stock manipulation and other offenses.

The report came just days after Channel 12 news reported police asked Rivlin to put off consideration of Dankner’s pardon request following an unspecified development that prompted the businessman to be moved to another prison.

Channel 13, however, said Danker was moved from Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle to Nitzan, another prison in the central city, after fellow prisoners planned to extort him.

Justice Minister Amir Ohana attends a conference in Jerusalem on June 27, 2019 (Aharon Krohn/Flash90)

Danker 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 role in carrying out millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent transactions in an attempt to influence the share price of the troubled company.

He had sunk into massive debt with the banks and hit a brick wall trying to raise cash or get further loans.

IDB accrued millions of dollars in debt following a series of bad business deals. The courts wrested control of IDB from Dankner as a result.

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.

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

Dankner was sentenced to prison in 2016. His co-defendant, Itay Strum, owner of a company that managed assets for wealthy families, received a one-year sentence.

However, both men appealed, and in its ruling in August the court increased Dankner’s sentence to three years and Strum’s to two years.

Dankner — once one of the richest men in Israel — was also given a one-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay a fine of NIS 800,000 ($209,000).

In the ruling, Judge David Mintz said that the pair’s actions had harmed public confidence in the stock market, adding that it increased suspicion that trading prices for securities do not accurately reflect the economic activity of the economy or the market.

The judges said that they felt the initial sentence was not commensurate with the severity of the crimes.

During his original trial, Dankner did not deny his “failures and poor decisions,” but tried unsuccessfully to convince the court that his actions had not been criminal. He tried to put much of the blame for IDB’s collapse on reforms in the cellular market introduced by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon in his previous cabinet role of communications minister.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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