Tel Aviv, Israel -- Police here are investigating an
indirect shareholder in an Israeli company for allegedly plotting to arrange the murders
of three people.
Ofer Nimrodi, CEO of Israel Land Development Corp. and one
of this country's most successful businessmen, is being probed for allegedly planning
the killing of two business rivals and a man testifying against him in an unrelated case.
ILDC, worth about $150 million, owns 64 percent of Maariv
Holdings. Maariv is one of ILDC's richest assets and holds a 16 percent stake in
Matav Cable Systems Ltd., one of the country's three cable operators.
The holding company also owns the daily newspaper Maariv
and 18 percent of Tel'Ad, which holds the franchise for broadcast-TV station
Nimrodi recently completed four-and-a-half months of an
eight-month prison sentence for wiretapping rival newspaper Yediot Ahronot. Now he
is under investigation for allegedly soliciting the murders of two newspaper executives, Yediot
Ahronot publisher Arnon Mozes and Haaretz publisher Amos Schoken.
He is also under investigation for allegedly soliciting the
murder of a private investigator-turned-state's-witness in the wiretapping affair,
The main source of the allegations is Rafi Pridan, who was
convicted of wiretapping for Nimrodi and is serving a four-year prison sentence, the
harshest meted out to anyone convicted in the wiretapping affair.
Nimrodi has denied the allegations, claiming that Pridan is
attempting to blackmail him.
Through a spokesperson, Nimrodi declined to comment for
this story. He has stepped down from his positions as CEO of ILDC and chairman of Maariv
Matav, the smallest of Israel's three cable operators
with about 260,000 subscribers, generates huge amounts of cash and is poised to increase
its presence by adding services such as high-speed Internet access. Matav's 20
percent stake in Partner Communications Ltd., Israel's No. 3 cellular-phone company,
is another big breadwinner.
The print rivalry between Maariv and Yediot
Ahronot, a shareholder in top Israeli MSO Golden Channels, has been a major roadblock
to a merger of the two operators.