Some of the most powerful businesspeople and lawyers in Israel are among the 600 Israeli companies and 850 shareholders listed in a huge leak from a Panamanian law firm, details of which were published around the world on Sunday.
The vast trove of documents obtained from law company Mossack Fonseca contain the names of world leaders and celebrities, including associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Barcelona football star Lionel Messi.
While no serving Israeli politicians were mentioned in the list of shareholders, two of the lawyers have worked closely with prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon.
Mossack Fonseca created offshore shell companies which could have been used for money laundering and tax evasion.
The Israelis mentioned in the list who were contacted by Haaretz — one of the 107 media organisations that took part in investigating the 11.5 million leaked documents — claimed that all their funds had been reported to the tax authorities.
One of the most prominent names connected to Mossack Fonseca (which has a branch in Israel) is Jacob Weinroth, one of the most well-connected lawyers in Israel who has acted on behalf of Mr Netanyahu and his family. Mr Weinroth has been indicted in the past for money-laundering and acquitted.
Another prominent Israeli lawyer to have worked through Mossack Fonseca is Dov Weisglass, who was Ariel Sharon’s lawyer and chief of staff for many years. Mr Weisglass represents many international companies working in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Two London-based Israeli businessmen on the list are Idan Ofer, who heads the Ofer Group, which controls Israel’s largest shipping company, the oil refinery in Haifa and Israel Chemicals; and Teddy Sagi, the online gambling tycoon who has a significant real estate portfolio in Britain including large parts of London’s Camden Market.
Moshe Asher, the head of the Israeli tax commission, said in an interview with IDF Radio that he would investigate the details in the leak relating to Israelis. He said: “Some of the names on the list are known to us and have declared their assets accordingly. Others we will check to see if the funds have been declared.”