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13/06/18
 

Jail Terms for the Tree Pruning Cartel

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Date of Publication:
13/06/2018

30 Sivan 5778

13 June 2018

Press Release

Jail Terms for the Tree Pruning Cartel

The Jerusalem District Court today handed down jail terms, including up to 11 months imprisonment, to seventeen convicted members of the tree pruning cartel

The Jerusalem District Court (Hon. Judge N. Ben Or) today (Wednesday) imposed jail terms and fines on convicted members of the tree pruning cartel.  Yaron Balva was sentenced to 11 months in prison. Erez Miyara was sentenced to 8 months in prison. Rami Barzilai was sentenced to 7 months in prison.  Assa Cooper was sentenced to two months in prison and another four months of community service;  Peretz Cooper was sentenced to one and a half months in prison and another three months of community service.

The remaining cartel members were sentenced to various terms of community service and fines totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels.

The company Sh.U.T. Vered Bar Roads & Development Ltd., owned by the brothers Assa and Peretz Cooper, was fined NIS 500,000 plus forfeiture of property worth NIS 350,000.  The court imposed a fine of NIS 175,000 on The Green Way Ltd. and ordered forfeiture of property worth NIS 150,000.

The criminal proceedings were conducted jointly by the Antitrust Authority and the Economic Crimes Department of the State's Attorney's Office, after a joint investigation by the Antitrust Authority and the National Fraud Investigation Unit of the Israel Police in Lahav 433.  Based on the investigation, charges were filed against more than 40 defendants, in three indictments, for cartel offenses in aggravating circumstances, for obtaining goods by fraud in aggravating circumstances, and in some cases, for money laundering offenses as well.  The charges were in connection with the bid-rigging of 18 tenders issued by the Israel Electric Corporation and the Tel Aviv, Petach Tikva, Haifa and Or Akiva municipalities, with a total value of tens of millions of shekels.  Most of the offenses were committed in the years 2009-2010. 

More than half the defendants pled guilty under plea agreements.  On 23.1.18, after hearing the evidence, the Court convicted another 17 of the defendants after a full trial.  Today the Court announced their sentences.

The case was handled by attorneys Asher Goshen, Eyal Perzon and Yitzhak Spiegler of the Antitrust Authority, and attorneys Gilad Sokolover, Omri Kofler and Noa Ezra from the Economic Department of the State Prosecutor's Office.