19 people were arrested as a covert investigation conducted by the Israel Police came to a close after two years. The suspects were arrested on suspicions of illegal gold trading from the West Bank into Israel, money laundering and tax evasion worth more than half a billion shekels.

Israel Police arrests 19

Israel Police arrests 19 Photo credit: Israel Police/ Channel 2 News

In a large-scale operation conducted by the Israel Police, 19 people were arrested for illegally trading gold from the West Bank to Israel, for money laundering and for tax evasion worth more than half a billion shekels.

Over the past year, the Israel Police led a covert investigation, in conjunction with the customs authorities and the Israel Tax Authority, which revealed that Israeli gold merchants were purchasing gold from traders in Ramallah. They would then process the material in factories in Israel and use it to make jewelry. At the end of the process, they would export the gold to merchants abroad.

The investigation raised the suspicion that, over a period of two years, the suspects were evading taxes and laundering money  using false documentation and straw companies. This was all done in order to deceive the tax authorities, hide income and launder money with sums estimated at half a billion shekels.

Tonight, (Monday) the suspects were arrested and the investigation came to a close. Of the 19 arrests, 15 are residents of central and northern Israel, two are residents of East Jerusalem and two are Palestinians from Ramallah.

During the arrests, a large amount of property was seized, including cheques, gold jewelry, dozens of luxury watches and approximately NIS 1 million in cash. About 22 vehicles used by the suspects were seized and confiscated. The police are expected to request an extension of the suspects’ detention in court.