Israeli top model Bar Refaeli convicted of tax evasion in Tel Aviv

Israeli top model Bar Refaeli convicted of tax evasion in Tel Aviv

July 20, 2020

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli was convicted by a Tel Aviv court Monday of tax evasion, fined 2.5 million shekels – about $730,000 – and ordered to serve nine months of community service.

The 35-year-old stunner wore a white face mask and white blouse as she arrived in court accompanied by her mother, Tzipi, who will serve a 16-month sentence and pay the same amount, and her father, Rafi.

Both women signed a plea deal last month as part of a years-long criminal probe into the model, who was accused of falsely claiming she lived with then-beau Leonardo DiCaprio in the US rather than Tel Aviv.

Refaeli, who received a suspended sentence in Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, and her mom also will pay the equivalent of $2.3 million in back taxes owed to the state.

Refaeli — who gave birth to her third child in January — had argued that her on-again, off-again relationship with DiCaprio made them a family unit, justifying her claims that the US was her home at the time, rather than Israel.

But prosecutors said she and her mother used it as a cover to hide tens of millions of dollars in earnings from Israeli tax authorities between 2009 and 2012.

The two women confessed to offenses of evading paying taxes on income of almost $10 million.

Refaeli’s lawyers said the plea bargain proved she hadn’t intentionally evaded tax payments.

“In the relevant time period, Bar was in her early 20s, was working as an international model and was not involved in financial matters,” they said in a recent statement.

The lengthy case damaged Refaeli’s well-crafted public image as an informal ambassador for Israel, though she remains a popular TV personality. Last year, she hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.

The crux of the high-profile case revolves around Refaeli’s residence earlier this decade when she criss-crossed the globe for modeling shoots and graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition while tied to DiCaprio.

Israeli tax law determines residency primarily upon whether a person spent most of the calendar year in the Jewish state.

Refaeli claimed she hadn’t and therefore did not have to declare her worldwide income in certain years – but prosecutors rejected her claim and charged her with providing incorrect tax information.

In previous appeals, an Israeli court ruled that her relationship with DiCaprio did not qualify as a “family unit,” and therefore she could not claim his US residence to avoid paying the full amount in taxes.

Tzipi — who also acted as her agent — was charged with failure to report income, avoiding paying taxes and aiding someone else in evading tax payments.

With Post Wires

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