Israeli authorities tap Bar Refaeli’s phone in tax evasion case

In an “unprecedented” move, Israel’s tax authorities tapped Bar Refaeli’s phone to prove her main residence was in Israel, contrary to her claim.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The State Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday announced that subject to a hearing, it was considering putting supermodel Bar Refaeli on trial for hiding nearly NIS 30 million from the tax authorities.

Her parents, Tzipi and Rafi Refaeli, were also caught in the net and are suspected of money laundering.

The main allegation is that Refaeli falsely declared in her tax documentation from 2009-2010 that she did not live in Israel, did not earn money in the country and that her main center of life was in the United States. Due to that claim, she was exempt from paying Israeli taxes on money earned abroad.

However, as Hadashot News reported Tuesday, the model told U.S. authorities that she was living in Israel at the time, and the IRS had her registered as a “non-resident.”

Israeli investigators took what they said was an “unprecedented step” for a white-collar crime by tracking Refaeli’s phone records as well as those of her two brothers in an effort to prove that her main residence was indeed Israel during the period in question, according to Hadashot. They found that she was living in two lavish apartments in Tel Aviv but that the leases were under the names of her mother and a brother.

Refaeli’s mother is suspected of giving false information to the authorities regarding her daughter’s place of residence over this period. She also allegedly concealed relevant information for the years 2011-2012, with the total income hidden coming to NIS 23 million.

Another six million shekels was allegedly hidden from the taxman during a previous compromise agreement signed in 2009, when Bar claimed to have paid all the taxes she owed in Israeli and overseas income during 2005-2007.

Globes reported Thursday that Tzipi herself is alleged to have hidden a NIS 3 million fee she received as Bar’s agent by depositing it abroad in accounts in her daughter’s name or in the name of a company she controls. Other money-laundering offenses attributed to the model’s parents include declaring that they were beneficiaries of accounts that in reality belonged to their daughter, the report said.