Rivlin shortens jailed tycoon Nochi Dankner’s sentence by 4 months

Rivlin shortens jailed tycoon Nochi Dankner’s sentence by 4 months

President’s office says decision based on disgraced businessman’s declining health in prison, will enable him to request parole soon

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)

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday said he had decided to commute the sentence of jailed businessman Nochi Dankner, citing his medical condition.

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

Last month, Justice Minister Amir Ohana signed off on a pardon request for Dankner.

The president’s office said Monday that he had decided to shorten Dankner’s time in prison by four months, which will be added to the one-year suspended sentence handed to him.

He will therefore soon be able to request early release for good behavior, having served two-thirds of his new, shortened sentence, instead of having to wait until May, the statement said.

“The decision was made based on Dankner’s current medical condition,” the president’s office explained. “These are medical circumstances that were not known to the judges when they announced the sentence, and which according to medical examinations have been severely exacerbated during his incarceration and require urgent medical intervention.”

The statement added that Dankner’s request to have his criminal record wiped clean was rejected.

President Reuven Rivlin speaks during the Climate Conference in Tel Aviv on November 24, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Dankner 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 his 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.

He began serving his sentence on October 2, 2018.

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

Last week, prosecutors said they were closing a case against Dankner that had threatened to scupper his hopes for a pardon.

Details of the case are banned from publication under a gag order.

It was not clear if the case that was investigated was connected to a reported earlier extortion attempt of Dankner by other prisoners.

Police had reportedly already asked Rivlin to put off consideration of Dankner’s pardon request following an unspecified development — apparently the new case.

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).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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