Israeli lawyer jailed for stealing millions from German pensions

20th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Court sentences the man to 12 years in jail.

Tel Aviv -- Concluding an eight-year affair that sparked outrage in both Israel and Germany, a Tel Aviv court sentenced an Israeli lawyer Tuesday to 12 years jail for stealing hundreds of millions of marks from the German pensions of tens of thousands of Israeli citizens.

Israel Perry, 65, was also given five-and-a-half years probation and a fine of 22 million Israeli shekels (6 million euros).

Perry owns the Organization for the Implementation of the Social Security Treaty Israel-West Germany, which claimed to act on behalf of Israeli citizens wishing to apply for a German pension via a 1973 bilateral treaty.

Under the treaty, which went into effect in 1980, many regular Israelis, not just owners of German citizenship or Holocaust survivors, were entitled to sign up for a German pension retro-actively, by depositing a one-time payment of at least 40,000 German marks.

If they had already reached pension age, they would immediately begin receiving a monthly sum of about 450 German marks on average.

Perry's organization, which he set up in 1983, offered loans to his clients for the one-time investment on unfavorable terms.

He also offered life insurances needed to back up the loans but took larger amounts of money from his clients than charged by the insurance companies which supplied them, pocketing the difference.

He thus accumulated about 320 million German marks from the 30,000 clients who signed up with his organization.

He also hid the fact that he was the organization's owner from his clients, the courts and the authorities. The name of his company, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled, was misleading as well, because it gave the impression it was a government-backed body.

The court convicted Perry in October of theft, fraud, obstruction of justice and withholding vital information from his clients to deprive them of their money.

In its verdict of hundreds of pages, the judges termed his deception "systematic, well-planned fraud, sophisticated in its means, which involved complex and hard-to-understand agreements."

Dozens of angry victims, among them Holocaust survivors, awaited Tuesday's sentencing in Tel Aviv. Some of them said they were told they would be fined as much as 6,000 German marks when they tried to get out of the agreement with Perry's organization. Others said he had their homes foreclosed when they were unable to pay back the loan.

"There is justice in the state," Deborah Reichert, 82, told reporters at the court, adding Perry deserved the sentence for the financial and emotional damage he caused her.

Perry's lawyer, attorney Ya'akov Weinrot, said he would appeal.

The affair was first exposed by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine in September 1999. Israeli prosecutors filed an indictment against Perry in August 2001.

DPA with Expatica

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