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Former Bank Director, Convicted of Theft, Fraud, Given 24 Years

A Tel Aviv district court yesterday pronounced three sentences totaling 24 years on a former bank director convicted of theft and fraud despite pleas for clemency by Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren and other leading figures in religious and business circles.

Yehoshua Ben Zion, who was director general of the now defunct Israel-British Bank, was found guilty of having stolen some $40 million through illegal financial manipulations. His sentences will run concurrently, meaning that he will serve a maximum of 12 years in prison. The sentences, by a panel of three district court judges, are considered among the most severe ever imposed for economic crimes. Ben Zion claimed they were unjust and said he would appeal.