Corruption scandals in the Israeli Genesis Prize

30 Janvier, 2020, 00:02 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Corruption scandals in the Israeli Genesis Prize

On January 27, 2020 it was announced that the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office quits the “Jewish Nobel” prize programme founded by three Russian oligarchs of Jewish descent: Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan.
The official name is Genesis Prize, and it was founded to award prominent Jews “for their professional accomplishments, commitment to Jewish values, and contribution to improving the world.” The annual winner gets $1 million from the $100 million endowment provided by Mikhail Fridman and his business partners.

Fridman, who is currently #79 in the global Forbes list with 15 bln dollars, can afford such generosity, considering that it is very helpful for preserving Israeli citizenship despite being a Russian oligarch and a British tax resident.

The announcement of Netanyahu’s office getting out of the Genesis comes amidst three corruption cases that the prime minister has been charged with. To make things worse, the 2019 winner Robert Kraft, a businessman and philanthropist, was charged with soliciting a prostitute just a month after receiving the prize. His case is ongoing.

Mikhail Fridman has a legal case on his hands as well. Spanish prosecutors accuse him of raider attacks, market manipulation, fraudulent insolvency, business corruption in regard to two Spanish businesses – Zed and Dia.

Fridman is accused of having led "a series of actions that led to the insolvency of the Spanish company Zed Worldwide SA... in order to buy it at a ridiculously low price, much lower than that of the market". The very same manoeuvers have been spotted by the press in the case of Dia, the embattled Spanish supermarket chain 

 In October, Fridman appeared in court in Madrid, and denied all charges. The prosecutor José Grinda,  however, insisted on his  maintaining the ‘accused’ status. In the words of Grinda, Fridman carried out "a practice known in the Russian criminal environment as raiding (assault or attack) or illegal takeover of companies".

Just a few weeks ago, Fridman got involved in another raiding scandal in Russia, where he was accused of an attack on businesswoman Elena Baturina, and of an attempt to extract money from her via a long estranged bankrupt brother who has a criminal past of his own.  Russian media note that the timing for the attack was deliberate, as it occurred right after the death of her husband Yuri Luzhkov, a former Mayor of Moscow.


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