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Israeli lawyer Moshe Strugano charged in US with insider trading

An Israeli lawyer specializing in the creation of companies offshore was charged in the United States with alleged insider trading.

Moshe Strugano, 52, was charged on Wednesday with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud in connection with the 2018 acquisition by Ormat Technologies Inc, an Israeli renewable energy company, of US Geothermal, Inc. , based in Idaho.

In response to a request from Times of Israelthe source close to Strugano denied any link between the investigation carried out in London and binary options, saying that the file concerned the collapse of an investment firm located in the United Kingdom.

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According to the indictment, which was filed on April 14 but remained sealed until April 20, Strugano received non-public material information in 2017 from Ormat’s head of mergers and acquisitions, a major Israeli thermal energy company regarding their upcoming acquisition of US Geothermal. He allegedly used this information to buy shares of US Geothermal before the announcement of the acquisition, then sold them immediately afterwards, making a profit of $1.2 million.

US Attorney Damian Williams said in a press release that “Moshe Strugano, a corporate lawyer, traded in nonpublic information for personal gain. The acts of which he is accused show a shameless disregard for the laws intended to maintain a level playing field for investors”.

According to the indictment, between September 2017 and January 2018, Strugano allegedly purchased more than $2.7 million worth of US Geothermal stock, acquiring a 3.8% stake in the company.

A parallel charge was announced Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The defendants are Strugano and his friend Rinat Gazit, whose name is not mentioned in the indictment of the Ministry of Justice. Both have been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with insider trading.

Rinat Gazit (Credit: Facebook screenshot)

The SEC complaint describes Gazit and Strugano as “close and personal friends” who regularly hung out and chatted on WhatsApp and email, talking about “their families, travel and business opportunities.” In 2017, Gazit was in charge of mergers and acquisitions at Ornat.

On December 19, 2017, the day Ornat decided to buy US Geothermal, Gazit reportedly sent Strugano a message saying “We were with [l’enfant de Gazit] to Peter Pan. Great show! Go with the kids.”

According to the SEC complaint, this WhatsApp message was actually a coded message “alert Strugano that Ormat’s board of directors had approved the acquisition and that it should begin buying US Geothermal securities. »

Over the next few months, Strugano reportedly purchased millions of US Geothermal shares.

If found guilty, he faces up to 25 years in prison, the Times of Israel a source familiar with sentencing guidelines, although sentences for insider trading usually don’t exceed a few years. The United States Department of Justice announced on April 20 that an arrest warrant had been issued and that it was seeking Strugano’s extradition.

Ms. Gazit did not respond, as of the publication date, to an email sent to her by one of the companies of which she is a director.

In an April 20 email to Times of IsraelMr Strugano said he was surprised to learn of the allegations from the US Department of Justice.

“We were surprised to hear the news that came out. We reject claims that have no evidence and are just bizarre speculation. Strugano & Co will continue to serve its customers for their benefit. »

the Times of Israel wrote in a July 2020 post that Strugano had been a client of the training company offshore Mossack Fonseca, as evidenced by documents from the Panama Papers leak. In January 2021, Strugano sued the editor of the Times of Israel, David Horovitz, and journalist Simona Weinglass, for this article which described him as a leading player in the largely fraudulent binary options industry in Israel. Strugano has never been indicted for alleged wrongdoing related to his binary options business.

In his January 2021 complaint, Strugano called the article the Times of Israel of “false, slanderous and denigrating”. the Times of Israel argued in his defense that the article was factual and truthful. The case is ongoing.

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