The police investigation into the embezzlement from Trade Bank isn't only focused on the effort to track the NIS 250 million stolen by assistant investment manager Esther Alon, but also on exposing the criminal organization serving gambling addicts, which the extorts money down to the "bone marrow," Deputy Commissioner Yair Regev of the National Serious & International Crimes Unit and Chief Inspector Elisha Kogan of the National Fraud Unit stated in Tel Aviv Magistrate Court.
Regev and Kogan explained that this criminal organization is unique in allowing compulsive gamblers to bet massive sums, at the same time taking care to collect the debt to the very end.
Alon has confessed to all charges against her but her father Avigdor Maximov, who is suspected of serving as a channel for transferring the embezzled money from his daughter to other entities in the gray market, continues to deny the allegations.
The police has defined another suspect, Benny Ravizada, as a member of local organized crime, and the most senior "banker" in the gray market. The police defined suspect Meir Hason as a somewhat smaller "banker".
At the end of a long debate on the two suspects, the detention of Ravizada was extended till Thursday, and Hason's was extended till Wednesday. Alon's detention had already been extended through SUnday and her father's through Thursday.
Ravizada's advocate asked for his release, saying his client deals in loans and providing cash against checks in return for a fee. Ravizada must therefore receive return of the money, the advocate said. He added that Ravizada doesn't care how he gets back the money, and he doesn't check if the money was embezzled or not. The advocate denied that Ravizada forged the transfer signatures on the bank checks received from Esther Alon and her father. As proof, he suggested that Ravizada provide samples of his handwriting. The advocate said that Alon's brother Ofer Maximov, for whom she claimed she embezzled, owes Ravizada NIS 12 million.
The police are not impressed by these defense claims, and for the first time charged Ravizada and the other three detainees with money laundering offenses, in addition to fraudulent receiving under aggravated circumstances, and using a forged document.