The basis of the dispute centers around sanctions imposed on Abramovich by the European Union and the British government.
Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Israeli billionaire, and Zaka, an Israeli non-governmental organization, sued Bank Mizrahi on Wednesday, claiming that the bank had wrongfully turned down Abramovich’s request to send NIS 8 million to Zaka, an important donation. The money was meant to help prepare for upcoming conflicts and natural disasters in the North as well as to support the NGO’s operations in the current war. The lawsuit asks that the funds that have been blocked be released right now.
The dispute stems from the bank’s denial, which was supported by the European Union and the British government’s sanctions against Abramovich. The bank claims that Abramovich’s account is blocked and cannot be used for any financial transactions as a result of these sanctions.
Roman Abramovich’s Sanction
In February 2022, sanctions were placed on Abramovich in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to send troops into Ukraine. Significant Russian assets were frozen by the EU, including Abramovich’s, who challenged the actions in court. Nonetheless, the European Union court in Brussels maintained the sanctions, highlighting Abramovich’s substantial stake in the Russian steel giant Evraz, which provides a substantial portion of the country’s income.
The parties involved in the lawsuit contend that Bank Mizrahi’s decision is essentially flawed and lacks legal support. The disputed funds were deposited into the account that Abramovich, an Israeli national, had opened years prior. Remarkably, about the situation in Ukraine, neither the US nor the Israeli governments have chosen to sanction Abramovich.
Renowned for his generosity, Abramovich has long backed Israeli organizations and initiatives, such as the Jewish Agency, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, KKL, City of David, and numerous other projects around the nation.
Bank Mizrahi Blocks Critical Donation to Zaka Amidst Ukraine Conflict”
The lawsuit emphasizes how important Zaka is to Israel as a leading organization that rescues and recovers people and provides emergency aid in disaster areas throughout the world. Zaka volunteers have been working nonstop to find and gather victims’ bodies since the start of the conflict, exhausting the organization’s supplies and machinery in the process.
Without the resources to do so, Zaka is now faced with the challenge of implementing a mental health program for its volunteers who have been exposed to traumatic events. The group helps people irrespective of their race, religion, or creed and is made up of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds, including Jews, Christians, Druze, Bedouin, and Muslims.
The lawsuit refers to prior rulings in Israeli case law and expert opinions on sanctions. Attorneys Shmulik Cassouto and Bella Peled, who authored the lawsuits, expressed surprise at Bank Mizrahi’s decision, pointing out that the bank was established precisely one century ago by the Hapoel Mizrachi movement with the sole purpose of assisting in the creation and fortification of the State of Israel. It is absurd that Bank Mizrahi would obstruct such an essential donation to one of Israel’s most significant organizations during one of the state’s most trying periods when the entire country is united and engaged in combat.
“Moreover, it is perplexing that a bank that spends millions on advertising under the motto ‘A bank of people, for the people’ would obstruct such a significant donation intended to aid the Israeli people,'” they said. If the funds are sufficient to stay in the bank and increase its value, they are unquestionably sufficient to be donated to charitable organizations and causes that will help our nation be ready for more difficulties in the years to come.