Friday, February 26, 2016 : ISRAELI CREDIT CARD EXECS CONVICTED ON ONLINE GAMBLING TRANSACTIONS
Two out of seven defendants enter guilty pleas in Tel Aviv court.
The Israeli newspaper Globes reports that its six-year investigation into the online gambling-associated activities of Israel Credit Cards-Cal has resulted in two out of seven defendants entering plea bargains in a Tel Aviv court.
The newspaper names businessman and startup entrepreneur Shay Ben-Asulin, an owner and partner in several online credit merchant acquisition companies, and his business partner Adv. Dganit Basha-Segev. Both were charged with fraud and abetting fraud by clearing online gambling websites, forbidden by international credit organisations.
Following the conviction, the court will be petitioned to give Ben-Asulin a five-month sentence, to be served through community service, and one year of probation, a NIS 1.5 million fine, while requiring him to post a NIS 500,000 guarantee.
Globes reports that the indictment to which the defendants admitted also includes allegations against the chief suspects in the investigation: Boaz Checik, former ICC-Cal CEO and former chairman of ICC-Cal subsidiary ICC International, and Steve Greenspan, former ICC-Cal VP trade and former ICC International CEO.
The indictment against Ben-Asulin and Basha-Segev indicates that Chechik and Greenspan developed the online merchant acquiring business in e-commerce at ICC-Cal and its subsidiary in 2006-2010. According to the indictment, Chechik and Greenspan made this sector into ICC-Cal's main growth engine, but "also led the company into large-scale criminal activity that generated substantial profits for both the company and them personally."
The indictment also claims that Ben-Asulin and Basha-Segev were among the owners of OT Platforms, which provided services to a German corporation called Ritiarius, allegedly an umbrella for online gambling websites…and that as part of Ritiarius's merchant acquiring contracts for businesses in ICC-Cal, Chechik and Greenspan made false representations to international credit organizations in order to clear illegal businesses.
"At the instruction of Chechik and Greenspan, as part of their large-scale fraud, ICC-Cal conducted merchant acquiring for many gambling websites used by US gamblers, and concealed the merchant acquiring transactions for gambling by portraying them as businesses in legitimate areas of commerce," the indictment alleges.
A large proportion of those gambling websites were transferred for merchant acquiring at ICC-Cal with a false code by Ritiarius through defendants Ben-Asulin and Basha-Segev," the indictment charges. In this manner, ICC-Cal, Chechik, Greenspan, and Ben-Asulin were able, with the help of Basha-Segev, to fraudulently perform merchant acquiring for gambling websites amounting to billions of shekels.
Globes reveals that In December 2011, the Israel Police Lahav 433 National Fraud Investigation Unit, with help from an online gambling task force from the Lahav 433 National Economic Crime Unit, began a public investigation of ICC-Cal, Chechik, Greenspan, and other suspects.
The newspaper says that additional indictments are expected following a December 2015 submission by the police to the State Attorney's economic department with a recommendation to indict ICC-Cal, Chechik, and other suspects in the affair for aggravated fraud, recording false information in corporate documents, bribery, and money laundering.
"The criminal actions by Israel Credit Cards-Cal (ICC-Cal), Chechik, Greenspan, Ben-Asulin, and Basha-Segev severely damaged the image of international credit card brands Visa and Mastercard. Their deeds exposed the Israeli financial and merchant acquiring markets to the risk of online crime, credit card fraud and exploitation of the Internet for purposes of money laundering," the indictment against Shay Ben Asulin and Dganit Basha-Segev claims.