Israeli Anger Builds Over Sweetheart Deal for 'Jewish Oligarch' Nochi Dankner

Public Demands Action To Curb Power of Super-Rich

Sweetheart Deal: Israeli tycoon Nochi Dankner was once a darling of high society. Now he is dealing with a wave of public anger over a sweetheart deal.
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Sweetheart Deal: Israeli tycoon Nochi Dankner was once a darling of high society. Now he is dealing with a wave of public anger over a sweetheart deal.

By Reuters

Published May 10, 2013.
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Outside the courtroom Dankner told reporters that IDB Development had enough assets to pay its creditors.

“The company has wonderful assets, some of the best in Israel’s market, worth a lot of money, worth billions, and if the company wants to it can realize those assets,” he said.

Many of the IDB companies have already been hit by slowing economic growth and accelerated competition. Shares in IDB Holding have fallen more than 16 percent so far in 2013 after plunging 74 percent in 2012.

A subsidiary of IDB partnered with Israeli tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva’s Elad Group to invest $1.2 billion in land in Las Vegas. Their plans to build a casino, just before the U.S. real estate market crashed, created heavy losses for the company.

SHIFT

Netanyahu has long been a champion of free enterprise in a Jewish state founded on socialist roots. He promised to revamp the economy in his previous term in office, but little changed.

Morris Dorfman, head of the National Economics Council which advises the prime minister on economic matters, said the shift in public mood now made more aggressive change possible: “Reforms are easier (now) because of public opinion.”

A draft budget law, set to be approved by the cabinet on Monday, includes measures that would cut red tape to increase food imports and limit dominant food retailers opening new shops – moves aimed at boosting competition and lowering prices.

“These reforms will be on land, sea and air, in every field,” Netanyahu said on April 28.

Protests over the economy helped make neophyte politicians Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett the stars of the last election. Lapid is now finance minister and Bennett is economy minister, the most important allies in Netanyahu’s coalition. Bennett heads a newly-announced ministerial committee tasked with breaking down monopolies.

Other politicians have been drawn into the public chorus of anger over Dankner’s proposed Bank Leumi deal.

“Regular people face monstrous interest rates and aren’t eligible for the same convenient terms of the tycoons, who have set up pyramids. They end


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