Former president Shimon Peres has signed an agreement with the Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva under which he is set to receive a monthly payment of $10,000 in exchange for advising the company, the Calcalist financial daily reported Sunday.
News of the elder statesman’s deal with Teva comes only several days after Peres canceled a contract to represent Bank Hapoalim as a lobbyist in exchange for $30,000 per month, in the wake of public criticism.
According to the Calcalist report, Peres is mainly set to focus on promoting Teva’s interests abroad. Aside from the $10,000 fixed monthly payment, Peres will also receive separate payments for larger, specific company projects. He has indicated he will donate all earnings received from Teva to the Peres Center for Peace, as well as other charitable causes in which he is involved, the report said.
On Thursday, Peres told Channel 2 News that Bank Hapoalim “naturally felt hurt” by the cancellation of the agreement, “but I told them — I don’t have a bank, I have a name, and my good name is the only bank that I have.” He said he had not stood personally to make any money from the arrangement in the first place, and that it had been misrepresented in the media. “I [would not have been] taking a penny from this money; it all goes to investment in science, in social needs,” the former president and prime minister said.
“What we agreed to had nothing to do with what was published,” Peres told the TV station. “Bank Hapoalim turned to me and said they had a branch in the US and they wanted to bring more investors to Israel, and that I should be the one to help them do it in the US, with no connection to what happens in the bank in Israel. I said yes.
“Then I read a story in the papers with no relation to reality, so I’m not even going to argue. I decided: It is at any rate a public matter for me and not a financial matter. And since it is important to me to maintain the public’s trust, I’m canceling it and that’ll be the end of that,” he said.
Peres stressed that he did not believe he had been in the wrong, but still decided to cancel the deal “in order to prevent the appearance” of exploiting his position “and to prevent badmouthing.”
The Marker business daily had broken news of the $30,000 contract between Peres and the bank. According to the report, the move, meant to improve Hapoalim’s image abroad, could also help Israel’s largest lender prepare to battle local legislation aimed at increasing competition in the banking sector — legislation that finance-minister-to-be Moshe Kahlon is expected to push in the coming Knesset.
Citing sources close to Peres, the report said all of the former president’s payments would be donated to charities or social justice projects and that his promotion of the bank abroad would advance dialogue, peace and Israel as a “start-up nation.”
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.