Businessman Convicted Of Bribing Former Israeli Defense Minister

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Georgian-Israeli businessman Avraham Nanikashvili was convicted Wednesday in Tel Aviv District Court of bribery and money laundering.

At the same time, Judge Benny Sagi acquitted businessman Roy Mussaffi. He and Nanikashvili had been charged with bribing the former minister and presidential candidate Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who died during the trial.

The heart of the indictment involved a $400,000 payment Nanikashvili gave Ben-Eliezer around 2011, while the latter was an elected official. The two described the amount as a loan and they even signed an official agreement. However, the loan didn’t accrue any interest and it was never paid back to Nanikashvili, nor did he ever ask for any of it back.

The former minister used the funds from Nanikashvili to buy a deluxe home in Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood. In exchange for the bribe, according to the ruling, Ben-Eliezer testified on Nanikashvili’s behalf in a tax appeal hearing. Nanikashvili claimed in the hearing that Israel was not his primary residence for a certain period of his life, and therefore he was complaining about his tax bill. Ben-Eliezer provided an affidavit supporting his position.

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