Israeli, Bulgarian prosecutors distance themselves from charges against metals tycoon Michael Cherney

Published February 24th, 2005 - 05:02 GMT

State prosecutors who have pursued cases against Michael Cherney, an international metals industrialist who today lives in Israel, have distanced themselves from core charges which until recently they pursued against him.

 

Shimon Dolan, former economic crime chief for Israel’s Attorney General, told Ha’aretz newspaper, “We did not claim that Cherney was involved with organized crime… We had no evidence to show that.”

 

Dolan’s superior, Attorney General Edna Arbel, has been accused by Israeli media of using her office to create politically-inspired prosecutions. In 2002, billionaire Cherney was accused of bribing an Eilat City Councilman NIS. 30,000 ($7000) to receive discounts in the small resort town’s restaurants and hotels.

This case is now considered a failure for Dolan and Arbel. The charges were eventually dismissed by the court, and both Arbel and Dolan subsequently left the AG’s office.

 

An unrelated set of charges were raised against Cherney in Bulgaria in the late 1990’s, spearheaded by General Atanas Atanasov, who according to the major Bulgarian newspaper “Standart,” was subsequently exposed in military court for fabricating charges against a number of Bulgarian citizens in politically motivated cases. Cherney then resided in Bulgaria where he had created Mobitel, the nation’s largest cellphone company.

 

In both Bulgaria and Israel, falsified materials relating to alleged misconduct were leaked to media and government officials which led to surveillance and phone-tapping of Cherney. General Atanasov faces prison time at proceedings in Sofia, and Moshe Mizrahi, his Israeli police counterpart who used the Bulgarian’s materials was recently dismissed from his position.


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