Millions funnelled into West Bank settlement construction via Panama-registered firm: Report

Published June 27th, 2016 - 11:15 GMT
The Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumin, in the West Bank, February 25, 2016 (Times of Israel/Yonatan Sindel).
The Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumin, in the West Bank, February 25, 2016 (Times of Israel/Yonatan Sindel).

An Argentinian tycoon is reportedly behind a covert pipeline transferring millions of dollars to an organization constructing West Bank settlements.

The Israeli-registered nonprofit organization The Fund for Nurturing the Zionist Idea has in recent years received money from a Panama-registered company, which it then passed on to Amana, the settlement construction movement in the West Bank, Haaretz reported Saturday.

The FNZI is controlled by Zeev Hever, who is also the secretary-general of Amana. The group was put under scrutiny by the Israeli registrar of nonprofits at the Justice Ministry in October 2014, although no action has yet been taken against it.

Diego Adolfo Marynberg, 41, a Jewish businessman of Argentinian origin now based in New York, controls a Panamanian company — Fundacion Adar — that has been funneling tens of millions of shekels into the FNZI, the report said.

In 2012, Fundacion Adar donated NIS 6.5 million ($1.67 million) to the FNZI and in 2013 a further NIS 8.5 million [$2.19 million). By 2014 the figure had jumped to NIS 31.8 million ($8.2 million).

In 2013-2014 FNZI, which has contributed funding to various construction projects in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, reportedly gave NIS 40 million ($10.3 million) to Amana and associated bodies.

However, the money transfers were not included in a 2013 financial report from FNZI to the registrar. As a nonprofit, FNZI is only permitted to transfer money to other not-for-profit bodies, which Amana is not. Hever’s controlling position in both FNZI and Amana may also preclude moving money between the two organizations.

Zeev Chever , secretary-general of Amana, the West Bank settlement construction movement, August 13, 2013 (Flash90)

Zeev Hever , secretary-general of Amana, the West Bank settlement construction movement, August 13, 2013 (Flash90)

Although Hever has said the money transfers were loans, Haaretz reported only NIS 14 million were returned.

In response to the report, Amana denied any wrongdoing or inappropriate financial activities.

“Amana and the Fund for Nurturing the Zionist Idea have acted, and still act, in accordance with the law and the instructions of the authorities,” it said in a statement. “Very unfortunately, the thrust of the factual basis on which Haaretz’s inquiry is based is untrue or distorted.

“Since the start of this year, there has been a complete severing of ties between the Fund for Nurturing the Zionist Idea and the Amana movement, including a severing of ties between the people managing the two entities,” Amana noted.

The registrar of nonprofits said it had “demanded a large number of documents and written support” from [FNZI]. After examining the material, it had decided “to open an additional in-depth audit regarding the nonprofit.”

It added, “No basis has been found for concern over tax offenses and, therefore, no basis has been found for passing the information on to the Tax Authority.”

By Stuart Winer


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