Adv. Dr. Jacob Weinroth, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legal representative, recently paid over NIS 12 million to the Israel Tax Authority to settle tax disputes, sources inform “Globes.” Weinroth, 71, who suffers from a serious illness, as he himself has told the media in interviews, has been considered one of Israel's leading litigators for many years.
Weinroth is still leading Netanyahu's defense team in the investigation of Cases 1000, 2000, and 4000. He heads a defense team that also includes Adv. Amit Hadad from Weinroth's own firm, and Adv. Yossi Cohen, and Adv. Eyal Cohen from the Cohen, Straschnov & London firm, who replaced Adv. Jacques Chen. Weinroth is also currently representing the prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, who is suspected of criminal offenses in the affair of the expenses of the Prime Minister's residence. The state also put Weinroth himself on trial at the beginning of the decade on suspicion of bribing tax assessment officer Yehoshua (Shuki) Vita. Weinroth conducted a long legal struggle to prove his innocence, and was acquitted.
Avigdor Liberman's representative in his acquittal on breach of trust charges
Particularly memorable among the high-profile white collar crime cases in which Weinroth has been involved over the years was that of Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman. Weinroth headed the defense team that successfully steered Liberman through the many years of investigations and the indictment by the State Attorney's Office. The Jerusalem Magistrates Court acquitted Liberman of fraud and breach of trust on November 6, 2013 in the affair of the appointment of former Ambassador to Belarus Ze'ev Ben Aryeh.
”This is a balanced verdict. We believed that it is an inevitable verdict. Unfortunately, most of the time, there is an enormous difference between what was reported and the proven facts. The result is a necessary one. This is a just verdict,” Weinroth said after Liberman's acquittal.
Weinroth believes that Netanyahu will also escape unscathed, or nearly so, from the three investigations into his affairs, and if there is a defense attorney in the world who is capable of achieving that, it is probably Weinroth. The question is how: whether through a legal battle, or by reaching a plea bargain with the state that will avoid a trial for Netanyahu.
High fees from wealthy clients
In any case, the arguments made by Weinroth in the three Netanyahu cases are naturally many and varied. The defense line led by Weinroth in Case 1000, for example, is that Netanyahu's relationship with Arnon Milchan was purely friendship. “Any reasonable person understands that if a close friend or acquaintance gives his friend cigars as a gift, there can be nothing wrong, forbidden, or criminal in it,” Weinroth said a long time ago.
Because he has been present at almost every important legal juncture for more than two decades, Weinroth has long since become a public figure. This one of the reasons that Weinroth's defense of the Netanyahus is not merely in the legal sphere against the police and the State Attorney's Office, but also in the media. For example, on November 9, the Uvda investigative program broadcast a riveting interview of Weinroth by Ilana Dayan. During the interview, Weinroth criticized his long-time client, saying, among other things, “Netanyahu admires wealth as general philosophy. I recognize this weakness.” Weinroth nevertheless argued that Netanyahu had not broken the law. Among other things, he said that every time Netanyahu had been about to receive a gift from a businessperson, he regularly asked him whether he was allowed to accept it.
According to Weinroth, he always allowed Netanyahu to take it if it was from a friend, or if there was no criminal matter involved. By law, if a person committed a criminal offense following consultation with a lawyer with expertise in the matter, and if the lawyer advised that no offense was involved, he has a defense and cannot be convicted.
Liberman and the Netanyahus are not the only ones. The list of Weinroth's past and present well-known clients, many of whom he rescued from being prosecuted or convicted, is very long. It includes Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi in the political appointments affair, the late President Ezer Weizman in the affair of accepted gifts from tycoon Edouard Seroussi, and former Minister of Finance Meir Sheetrit in the Jewish Agency affair. Weinroth represented diamond trader Dan Gertler, and later the Gertner brothers, Gertler's estranged partners. Weinroth represented former IDF Chief of Staff and Minister of Agriculture Rafael Eitan when he was accused of stealing a military document; Russian oligarchs Arcadi Gaydamak and Mikhail Chernoy in their tax affairs, among other things; singer Eyal Golan in his tax evasion affair; and many others.
Weinroth is well-known for charging his wealthy clients high fees, but at the same time providing pro bono legal services to people in trouble with the law who were unable to afford high-quality legal representation. He is also known for taking cases regardless of the clients' political views. Weinroth represented Margalit Har-Shefi, who was accused of failing to report what she knew of Yigal Amir's plan to assassinate Yitzhak Rabin, before the Supreme Court, and was among the lawyers who represented the Jewish underground defendants in 1984-1985. At the same time, he has also represented left wing politicians: Saleh Tarif, Ahmad Tibi, and others. Weinroth was offered a seat on the Israel Supreme Court in 1991, but turned it down.
A representative of Weinroth responded, “No comment.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 9, 2018
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