Man behind massive bank-collapsing fraud granted parole after 17 years

Man behind massive bank-collapsing fraud granted parole after 17 years

Ofer Maximov to be set free a year early, barring appeal; was convicted over role in NIS 250 million embezzlement scheme with sister Etti Alon

Ofer Maximov attends a a hearing at the Supreme Court on November 9, 2004. (Flash90)
Ofer Maximov attends a a hearing at the Supreme Court on November 9, 2004. (Flash90)

A former banker who was behind one of the largest banking scams in Israel’s history was granted early release on Thursday, after serving 17 years of his 18-year sentence.

The Israel Prison Services parole board granted Ofer Maximov early release, saying that he had sufficiently demonstrated that he was not a danger to the public.

State prosecutors were opposed to commuting the last year of Maximov’s sentence for his role in embezzling a quarter of a billion shekels from the now-defunct Trade Bank, which he started serving in 2004.

Persecutors have until next week to appeal the decision at the district court level. If the state decides not to appeal, Maximov will be released next Thursday.

In 2016, Maximov’s sister Etti Alon was released from prison after serving 14 years out of a 17-year sentence for embezzling millions from Trade Bank where she was a senior investment trader.

Former bank executive Etti Alon, arrested in 2002 for embezzling approximately a quarter of a billion shekels from the Trade Bank, leading to the bank’s collapse, seen at a Ramla court on February 17, 2016. (Ido Erez/POOL)

Alon confessed to stealing the money from Trade Bank customers over a five-year period in order to help her brother pay off the NIS 100 million ($28 million) gambling debts he owed to various organized crime groups.

Not only did Alon’s theft trigger the collapse of the bank, which cost the state half a billion shekels in deposit insurance, but officials say the vast sums of money involved redrew the map of organized crime in Israel.

According to police, the millions of shekels circulated through the hands of various underworld loan sharks, gamblers and crime bosses, who fought over who would have dibs on collecting Maximov’s debts. The scandal sparked a number of gang wars between rival crime bodies that lasted years.

In the wake of the scandal, the Bank of Israel revamped banking regulations, introduced new protocols to prevent money laundering and required employees in sensitive positions to rotate positions regularly.

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