Bank forced to move Abramovich’s money to ZAKA by court.

January 30, 2024
1 min read


  • The Tel Aviv District Court has ordered Mizrahi Tefahot Bank to transfer NIS 8 million from Roman Abramovich’s account to Israeli humanitarian organization ZAKA.
  • This decision goes against the bank’s initial refusal due to EU and UK sanctions against Abramovich.
  • Judge Yardena Seroussi criticized the bank for its unnecessary investigation into the applicants and ordered it to cover their legal expenses of NIS 15,000.
  • The court’s ruling allows Abramovich to donate to ZAKA, which receives minimal government support and provides important assistance to the State of Israel.

The Tel Aviv District Court has ruled that Mizrahi Tefahot Bank must transfer NIS 8 million from the account of businessman Roman Abramovich to Israeli humanitarian organization ZAKA, despite the bank’s initial refusal based on European Union and United Kingdom sanctions against Abramovich. The case drew attention as it contradicted the stance of Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, who had previously deemed the bank’s refusal reasonable. The court’s decision highlights the importance of balancing legal obligations with ethical considerations in international finance and philanthropy.

Judge Yardena Seroussi, in addition to ordering the transfer, delayed the implementation of the decision by 72 hours, allowing for a potential appeal by the bank. She also criticized the bank for its unnecessary investigation into the applicants and ordered the bank to pay the legal expenses of NIS 15,000. In response to the ruling, attorney Shmulik Cassuto expressed gratitude to the court for allowing Abramovich to donate to ZAKA, which receives minimal government support and plays a crucial role in serving the Israeli people.

The lawsuit was filed after the bank refused to transfer a donation from Abramovich’s account due to the sanctions imposed on him by the EU and UK. However, the judge questioned the bank’s adherence to European sanctions when they do not apply in Israel. The judge argued that since the funds are in Israel and the donation is for a worthy cause that helps the State of Israel, the bank’s across-the-board refusal to transfer the funds is unreasonable. She advised the bank to approve Abramovich’s request and stated that she is inclined to approve the request to order the bank to transfer the funds to ZAKA.

The ruling has been seen as a victory for philanthropy and humanitarian efforts in Israel. ZAKA, which relies on donations as it receives minimal government support, plays an important role in assisting the State of Israel in times of need. Abramovich’s attorneys criticized the bank’s position, emphasizing that the bank in Israel is not obligated to abide by the sanctions imposed by Europe and the account is not subject to sanctions. They argued that the bank’s application of the sanctions was more comprehensive than even the UK’s.

This ruling underscores the need for financial institutions to consider the specific circumstances and ethical implications of a donation, rather than relying solely on international sanctions. It also showcases the importance of humanitarian organizations like ZAKA, which rely on private donations to provide vital services to their communities.

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