Leumi, Mizrahi Tefahot implicated in US tax evasion - report

"Bloomberg": A California resident has plead guilty to conspiring with people at Bank Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank to hide offshore accounts from the IRS.

"Bloomberg" reports that a California resident, born in Israel, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with people at Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (TASE:MZTF) to hide offshore accounts and income from the Internal Revenue Service, according to court filings and people familiar with the matter.

"Bloomberg" states that, on Thursday, Zvi Sperling was charged in the US District Court Central District of California in Los Angeles of conspiring with people at two Tel Aviv-based banks, identified only as Bank A and Bank B. The indictment and plea agreement do not identify the banks. However, according to sources who declined to be identified, Bank A is Mizrahi Tefahot Bank and Bank B is Leumi.

"Bloomberg" says that, according to the plea agreement, in 2001, Sperling, who co-owns a wholesale goods company with his brother, met banker 1 from Bank A, who persuaded Sperling to move his money from China. The plea agreement states, "Sperling wanted to keep the money secret from the US government and Banker 1 ensured that the money would be secret at Bank A in Israel. Banker 1 also explained that Sperling would use the money by borrowing against the money at Bank A in the US."

Bank Leumi said in response, "As a matter of policy, the bank does not discuss its customer relations in the media. We can therefore neither confirm nor deny that any particular person is a bank customer. As we have stated in the past, the US authorities are investigating foreign banks, including in Israel, one of which is Bank Leumi, about the banks' activities with customers who are US taxpayers on suspicion of violation of US law. The bank is cooperating with the US authorities by providing information and with the necessary procedural processes, as permitted by law."

"Bloomberg" says that no one answered the phones at Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, as it was after business hours on Friday.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 17, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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