With sentence commuted, tycoon Nochi Dankner released from prison

Former controlling shareholder of IDB, who was convicted of massive financial fraud, walks free after parole board grants him early release

Former Chairman of IDB Group Nochi Dankner is released from Maasiyahu Prison in Lod, February 2, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Former Chairman of IDB Group Nochi Dankner is released from Maasiyahu Prison in Lod, February 2, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Disgraced businessman Nochi Dankner was released from prison on Sunday after serving part of a sentence for massive financial fraud.

The former controlling shareholder of IDB Holding Corp, Dankner was sentenced to three years in prison for stock manipulation and other offenses. IDB had accrued millions of dollars in debt following a series of bad business deals, when Dankner, desperately trying to keep his company’s share price up, carried out millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent transactions by the time control of IDB was wrested from him by the courts.

After his conviction in 2016, he 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 central role in the company’s fraudulent behavior as undermining the public faith in the securities markets.

Last month though, President Reuven Rivlin agreed to shorten Dankner’s sentence by four months due to unspecified health issues. Those months were added to the one-year suspended sentence handed to Dankner.

Shortly after Rivlin’s January 13 decision, Dankner filed a formal request for early parole, citing good behavior and health issues. The Israel Prisons Service Parole Board approved that request on Thursday.

Former chairman of IDB Group Nochi Dankner seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on April 23, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Parole Board cited his “contrition… and the process of rehabilitation he underwent in the therapy he received during his time in prison. He expressed understanding that the crimes he was convicted of were serious crimes.”

Dankner told the board at his hearing Thursday that he “acted foolishly…. All my life I was a law-abiding man, honest and fair, believed in the law and in the courts.”

The state prosecution agreed to the early release, officials said.

His early release has a few conditions. He must be in his home every night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., during the initial period out of prison.

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.

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