Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli is suspected by Israel’s tax authorities of “systematically” selling off a large number of outfits given to her by leading designers, Israeli television reported.
Refaeli was questioned for five hours on Wednesday by the tax authorities, in what Channel 2 said was at least her fourth such session.
Most of the questioning has focused on allegations that she failed to pay millions of shekels in taxes by claiming that she was not resident in Israel, but in the course of the investigation further allegations have surfaced, the TV report said.
One of these is that she sold designer clothes “from her private closet” on a large and systematic scale, the report said.
Earlier this month, Hebrew media reports said Refaeli has tried to convince the Israeli authorities that she should be exempt from paying taxes in 2009-2010 because her relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio made Israel not “the center of her life” during that time.
According to a report in daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Refaeli’s lawyers and accountants made the “creative” argument, among others, in an attempt to skirt paying taxes on some NIS 15 million ($3.8 million) in income earned working abroad.
They explained that during this period, Refaeli was abroad, living with DiCaprio in his mansion in the United States and enjoying the use of his luxury cars.
The tax authority was reportedly not impressed by the arguments, saying that because the couple was never married, and their relationship apparently “had its ups and downs” during this period, her claims of tax exemption were not valid, the newspaper report said.
Indeed, when investigators followed up on the claims regarding her center of life being in the United States with DiCaprio at the time, US tax authorities revealed that she was registered there as a “non-resident,” the newspaper report said. The investigators also established that during this period, Refaeli owned no assets outside Israel, and had not even rented a car or a house abroad.
The supermodel was initially called in by the tax authorities in December and questioned for 12 hours regarding allegations of tax fraud.
Aside from unreported income, Refaeli is suspected of not reporting that she had someone else pay her rent at an apartment at the luxury W high-rises in Tel Aviv; underpaying an interior designer in exchange for helping him with advertising; and receiving a free car from a company, also in exchange for help with advertising, according to news site Ynet.
Refaeli denies all wrongdoing.
The model, whose scads of campaigns for various companies has made her one of Israel’s most recognizable faces on the world stage, is also a mainstay of celebrity websites and gossip rags in Israel and the US.