Travel agents face prosecution for Poland memorial trips cartel

14 people suspected of fixing prices on youth trips to Eastern Europe to learn about Holocaust

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

A student on a trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in modern-day Poland on April 27, 2014. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
A student on a trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in modern-day Poland on April 27, 2014. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Prosecutors and antitrust sleuths on Monday notified 14 individuals suspected of fixing the prices of youth trips to Polish Holocaust memorial sites that they could face prosecution.

The case throws a spotlight onto the lucrative industry, which began in the 1980s, that grew around Israeli high school students’ annual week-long tours of former Nazi concentration camps and Jewish ghettos in Eastern Europe.

The suspects, who were summoned to hearings, include employees of four companies that were allegedly involved in the scam, whose value is estimated at hundreds of millions of shekels.

They include Pinchas Ginsburg and Zvi Sa’ar of Hillel Tours, Nachman Keidar and Ayelet Jungster from Bridge to the World Tours, Shimon Regev and Aharon Torovitz of Academy Travel, and Moshe Hartman and Eyal Sluck of Diesenhaus.

Ginsburg (pictured below) owns ten percent of the shares of the national airline El Al and serves on its board, the Haaretz daily newspaper reported in January.

Haaretz said it was estimated that Hillel Tours managed 40 percent of the group tours to Poland.

In January, the company won a tender to send hundreds of police officers to Poland, despite the fact that it was already under investigation for price fixing.

According to suspicions, the four companies agreed not to compete against one another and made false presentations to clients to create the appearance of competition. They are also suspected of coordinating price quotes to bodies such as the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center, the Prisons Service and the Maccabi Health Fund.

Most of the suspects could face charges of fraud and violating antitrust laws, while some are also suspected of money laundering.

Editor’s note: A previous headline on this article mistakenly referred to March of the Living. There is no known connection between the investigation and March of the Living.

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