Court issues order stopping Art-In chief from leaving Israel

An Israeli court has issued a temporary order stopping the general manager of Art-In Internet Technologies (TASE: ARTN ), Alon Pupkin, from leaving Israel, at the behest of the Industrial Development Bank (TASE: INDD.G ).

In an urgent petition, the bank claims that Pupkin personally owes NIS 4 million, and that he might flee Israel.

The bank claims that in November 2000, it agreed to lend Pupkin two loans totaling NIS 4 million. He has made not one single payment due since, the bank claims. Meanwhile, his loans have inflated to NIS 4 million, it added.

Pupkin has also become embroiled in financial difficulties with two other banks, Industrial Development lamented in its petition to the court, and meanwhile Art-In has been suspended from trade on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

The company has indeed been suspended from trade after falling below minimum equity requirements.

Industrial Development claims Art-In has fired most of its employees, drastically scaled back its activities and may go bankrupt within days.

The bank claims that in meetings with new investors in Art-In, the investors said Pupkin explicitly said he'd "try his luck abroad" and that in Israel, he's dead meat.

The bank also noted that most of Pupkin's business is in Italy, he might opt to go there instead of facing the music at home.

An Art-In spokesperson commented that the bank's claims regarding the company are wrong. The company is operating as usual, he said, and has no financial problems. Pupkin also denied the bank's claims against him and said he would shortly counter-sue.

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