August 29, 2018 / 10:45 AM / 2 months ago

Israeli businessman Dankner to serve three years in prison after appeal rejected

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday increased former tycoon Nochi Dankner’s prison sentence to three years after rejecting his appeal against his conviction for securities fraud related to the IDB group he once controlled.

FILE PHOTO: Nochi Dankner, the chairman of indebted Israeli conglomerate IDB Holding Corp, arrives ahead of a court hearing at the district court in Tel Aviv, Israel December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

Dankner, 63, was found guilty in 2016 of manipulating his company’s shares ahead of a planned stock issue and was sentenced by a Tel Aviv district court to two years behind bars.

The Supreme Court rejected his appeal against the conviction and the sentence, and accepted a prosecution request for a heavier prison term, court documents showed.

He was ordered to report to jail on Oct. 2.

Dankner was once one of Israel’s most powerful and popular businessmen. He controlled the IDB holding company, and was widely credited with helping Israel’s economy in the early 2000s during a Palestinian uprising.

But he lost his business empire in the global financial crisis that began in 2007. Dankner’s companies had included a major supermarket chain, cellphone operator, airline and one of the country’s main newspapers.

In February 2012, after things had turned sour for his business empire, Dankner created a false impression there was strong interest in the stock of his IDB conglomerate to help a share sale, when in reality there was not, the Tel Aviv court found in 2016.

IDB had a complex pyramid of control with multiple levels of holding firms and subsidiaries. It hit hard times when the market crashed and some investments, such as a major Las Vegas real estate deal, failed and the firm incurred a heavy debt.

Dankner’s case has led to economic reforms in Israel, with the government passing regulations to increase market competition and limit pyramid-style companies.

Control of IDB and its subsidiaries has since been sold to Argentinian businessman Eduardo Elsztain.

Dankner’s co-defendant, Itay Strum, was ordered to serve two years in prison, double the original sentence.

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Mark Potter

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