Call for Israel’s richest woman to be indicted for construction bribery in Africa

The former controlling shareholder of one of Israel’s biggest contractors should be indicted in a probe into the firm’s alleged bribing of African politicians in return for work, Israel’s police and securities regulator said on Sunday.

Police and the Israel Securities Authority said they have sufficient evidence against Shari Arison, called "Israel’s richest woman", plus multiple other company executives at Shikun & Binui (Housing & Construction) Company Ltd.

Authorities allege that between 2008 and 2016 executives made illegal payments to officials in Africa, especially Kenya, through a Swiss subsidiary, SBI International Holdings, reports newspaper Haaretz.  

With an estimated net worth of $5.5bn, Arison was the controlling shareholder of Shikun & Binui until she sold her shares last August.

The announcement on Sunday comes after an investigation into the company that was revealed in February 2018 and which has led to waves of arrests.

Investigators have interviewed some 50 suspects and collected testimony from 34 witnesses, said Haaretz, while Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has questioned 19 Kenyan officials.

The police and securities authority said the file would be forwarded to the State Prosecutor’s Office’s department for taxation and economics for a final decision.

Police and the securities authority said Sunday they had seized $116m (420 million shekels) of assets in connection with the case.

Top image: Shari Arison, "Israel’s richest woman" (Vardi Kahana/Public domain)

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