Nir Barkat denies corruption allegations

October 5, 2021 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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Israeli Knesset member and billionaire businessman Nir Barkat is one of the people who had his financial dealings unveiled in the Pandora hack.

Nir Barkat

Now the Likud MK is fighting back, denying the accuracy of the information that was revealed, calling it all just another attack on an Israeli right-wing politician.

The Pandora Papers, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, is probably the most extensive “dump” of private financial records in history. The information was leaked by anonymous sources and came from various offshore service providers operating in Anguilla, Belize, Singapore, Switzerland, Panama, Barbados, Cyprus, Dubai, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles and Vietnam.

Barkat has a significant stake in Israel’s eToro company. eToro is registered in the Virgin Islands; even though, it is an Israeli company with the majority of its offices and employees located in Israel. It is, however, not unusual for a company to be registered in a country like the Virgin Islands for tax purposes. But it looks bad for a politician to be “evading” taxes, even if it is done in a legal manner.

The bigger issue for Barkat is that he may have violated the Knesset’s ethics rules for members. Specifically, when Barkat became a member of the Knesset he transferred his finances to a blind trust operated by Barkat’s brother Eli Barkat. But the Knesset rules require that personal finances be transferred to a public trust company.

Now Mr Barkat has released a formal statement in defence of himself and explaining that there was nothing untoward about his actions.

Claiming that the facts, as they may be, are being exaggerated for political reasons, Barkat said that, “I am not surprised by the attacks against me now, you know very well where the attempts to eliminate leaders on the right and in the Likud are coming from. Contrary to the slander and lies published in the media, I pay my taxes exclusively in the State of Israel.”

Clearly concerned with being perceived as another politician who does not pay his fair share in taxes, even when no laws have been broken and only legitimate financial transactions were made to tax shelter income, Barkat declared that he reviewed his finances and found that over the years he paid more than half a billion NIS ($156 million) in taxes to the State of Israel.

“Our companies have paid billions of shekels in taxes, created tens of thousands of jobs and employ tens of thousands of Israelis who also pay a lot in taxes to the state coffers every month,” exclaimed Barkat.

Nir Barkat also stressed that his independent wealth allows him to serve in the Knesset while taking a salary of just 1 Shekel per year.

Barkat concluded his statement by saying that he is proud of “serving the people of Israel and the State of Israel for one shekel a year and paying them a great deal in taxes.”

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