Arab-Israeli lawyers held for ‘defrauding’ Egypt banks

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JERUSALEM: Police have arrested two Arab-Israeli lawyers accused of defrauding several Egyptian banks out of millions of dollars, a police spokeswoman told AFP on Thursday.

Luba Samri confirmed that police had detained two lawyers from the northern villages of Baka Al-Gharbiya and Jitt in connection with the alleged fraud.

"The police arrested two lawyers suspected of fraud and deceit," Samri said.

"One of them was freed on Wednesday night, and the detention of the other lawyer was extended until Jan. 17 to allow investigations to be completed."

Ashraf Jassar, who is still in custody, is accused of defrauding two Egyptian banks who were seeking to press legal action over the ownership of properties in Israel, including the prestigious King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

Jassar was reportedly retained by Bank Misr and the National Bank of Egypt to represent them in their bid to obtain compensation for shares they held in certain properties since the time of the British Mandate.

Samri said Jassar failed to file suit on behalf of the two banks, and falsified receipts and records allowing him to claim 18 million shekels ($4.7 million/€3.68 million) in fees and expenses.

She said police had opened an investigation after a complaint was submitted by a legal adviser to one of the banks.

The two banks are reportedly seeking recompense for shares they owned in the properties, for which they were never compensated following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Under the terms of a peace treaty signed by Egypt and Israel in 1979, individuals or institutions in both countries have the right to file suit seeking compensation in the other’s courts.

A ruling in favor of the Egyptian banks, which are expected to continue pursuing the case, would be a first.


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