Mob boss gets eight years for tax crimes

Mob boss gets eight years for tax crimes

Rico Shirazi convicted of money laundering, fraud and conspiracy; also implicated in sweeping Case 512

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Crime boss Rico Shirazi smiles at photographers at the Tel Aviv District Court on November 02, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Crime boss Rico Shirazi smiles at photographers at the Tel Aviv District Court on November 02, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Reputed Israeli crime boss Rico Shirazi was sentenced by the Tel Aviv District Court on Monday to eight years in prison for fraud, money laundering and tax evasion for some NIS 22 million ($6 million) in income.

Shirazi, who was convicted by the same court last month on five out of the six charges filed against him by the Tax Authority in 2011, was also ordered to pay a NIS 1 million ($260,000) fine.

A state witness who testified against Shirazi detailed how the notorious crime boss used various shell companies to hide his income from authorities. The unnamed witness, who was a former associate of Shirazi’s, said the two would use fake invoices to more easily move money around and avoid paying taxes.

The tax authority said Shirazi’s outstanding tax bill was at least NIS 3 million.

In addition to the tax crimes, Shirazi was convicted of conspiracy, falsifying official documents and records, and obstruction of justice. The court dropped the charge of making threats due to lack of evidence.

Shirazi’s lawyers, Shlomo Ben-Arie and Viki Puni, said their client was considering appealing the verdict to the Supreme Court.

In a separate case, state prosecutors earlier this year indicted Shirazi for his involvement in the murder of Guy Yehezkel and the attempted murder of Asi Abutbul, amid a fierce power struggle for control of Israel’s criminal underworld several years ago.

Shirazi was indicted along with eight other senior Israeli crime bosses as part of the state’s major organized crime investigation known as Case 512.

Prosecutors said Shirazi, along with Asaf Yariv, paid a hitman $50,000 in 2003 to kill Yehezkel, a known associate of Abutbul, his archrival.

A year later, Shirazi offered the hitman $500,000 to kill Abutbul. The hitman threw a grenade into Abutbul’s car in Prague, but he survived the assassination attempt.

Abutbul is currently serving out a 13-year prison sentence for extortion and money laundering. Police have also linked him to the disappearance and possible murder of four people between 2000 and 2002, but has not been charged for those crimes.

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