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Debts that employees owed to the now defunct Trade Bank will be offset from redundancy compensation they are due, the court ruled today.

Tel Aviv District Court judge Varda Alshech slammed both the employees and their attorney, Galila Hornstein, for their contempt of court petition against Trade Bank's special managers, CPA Yehuda Bar-Lev and attorney Uri Bergman.

The workers and Hornstein were asking the court to use the threat of a fine or imprisonment to force compliance with an earlier court ruling.

Through Hornstein, the workers had petitioned for the immediate release of their full compensation and social benefits. But the special managers advised the court that first they had to check the workers' accounts at the bank, and see whether they were connected in any way to the massive embezzlement that brought the bank down.

Alshech subsequently directed the managers to do whatever they needed to check these accounts, within 21 days, after which the compensation monies should be released.

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After that period had passed, the special managers announced that they would free the compensation money only for workers whose accounts were in credit. Others, who owed money to the bank, would have their debts offset first.

The workers objected and petitioned the court to order the special managers to release the compensation immediately, as previously directed by the court. They also sought a contempt ruling against the managers for failing to fulfill the judge's earlier ruling, which, the workers said, was clear and unambiguous to release the money to all the workers.

Alshech, however, found for the special managers, and accused the workers of trying to achieve opposing ends: to force the managers to pay their ostensible due, immediately, before being dunned for their debts while demanding to only pay their debts to the bank at a later stage, during its official liquidation.

At the end of her ruling, Alshech added that she had to express astonishment at the inappropriate way the workers chose to handle their affairs, under the circumstances. Their harsh language and contempt petition were inappropriate, she said. Not a day had passed since the time for response had expired before the workers hastened to file their petitions, while ignoring the fact that the managers had filed for instructions on handling the issue in dispute.

She rejected the workers' petition and instructed the special managers to offset the debts from the workers' compensation, and also imposed court costs of NIS 15,000 on the workers.