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Sunset on Israel's Meged oil field
Sunset on Israel's Meged oil field
Tomer Ganon and Roni Singer

TEL AVIV — The 2009 discovery of the Tamar gas field off the coast of Israel sparked a classic rush in which money poured in from all sides, stock prices soared, and fortunes were made overnight.

But this dash for gas may also have attracted investments from more dubious sources. Roughly two years after the Tamar discovery, Israeli's special police unit for fighting economic crime began receiving intelligence pointing to criminal organizations being involved in the gas and oil sector. Certain unsavory characters, it would seem, had gotten into the business of mediating and purchasing offshore and onshore drilling licenses.

An initial police investigation dubbed "Master of Illusions" centered on an illegal online gambling operation allegedly led by Roy Hayun. Police now believe Hayun may have used a mediation deal to launder gambling revenue by acquiring rights in an oil exploration license. He also purchased shares of a company called ILDC Energy, which holds licenses for two gas fields.

Four years of eavesdropping, investigations, searches, and monitoring of international transactions have unearthed an affair that left police and tax investigators, and even attorneys, puzzled by its breadth. The transactions they've been trailing involve not only organized crime, but also key figures in finance and energy, and even former soccer players. Overall, it is believed that millions of shekels worth of online gambling revenue was laundered through the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and ended up in oil drilling operations off the Israeli coast.

Two weeks ago the state attorney's office informed some of the 12 people under investigation that it plans to file charges and eventually hold hearings.

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The Main COVID Risk Now: Long COVID

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