ISRAEL NEWS: 2 of 26 Israelis were arrested in forex raids. They were named Guy Grinberg, Snir Hannanya

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Thirteen years ago, Guy Grinberg, an Israeli businessman was a high-tech icon. Interviews on CNBC , Bloomberg and Bloomberg featured the social networking startup Koolanoo that he co-founded.

His company was praised in the 2009 book “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” as an example of Israeli entrepreneurial aplomb.

“China’s third largest social-networking Web page, which serves twenty-five millions of young Web surfers, actually belongs to an Israeli startup called Koolanoo. This Hebrew word means “all of us” in Hebrew,” the book stated.

But Grinberg was taken to Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, October 6th for a remand hearing after he was arrested by Israeli police under the orders of the FBI. Grinberg was allegedly involved in massive fraud and money laundering offenses related digital forex trading, according to an Israeli police statement dated October 6.

In a joint covert operation with the FBI, the Israel Police arrested 26 people overnight Tuesday-Wednesday in Tel Aviv on suspicion of involvement.

In court filings made prior to the hearings, only two of these suspects were named. These are Grinberg, 47 and Snir Moshe Hananya, 33.

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The police statement stated that the alleged cryptocurrency crimes involved victims from abroad and totalled tens to millions of shekels. Police said that the arrests were part a coordinated operation of several law enforcement agencies across the globe to detain individuals suspected of financial crimes. They did not give further details about other locations.

A spokeswoman from the FBI told The Times of Israel, that the FBI is conducting an ongoing investigation with both the Israel Police and the National Police of Ukraine.

Snir Moshe Hananya in 2012 (Facebook screenshot)

Guy Grinberg is the LinkedIn profile of the “vice-president of business development” at an unnamed forex firm. Recent post stated that Grinberg was “Looking for live cryptocurrency CFD leads!” This meant that he was seeking contact information for potential investors in online crypto and CFD products.

From 2012-2014, Grinberg worked for Mobli, entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg’s ill-fated social networking startup, according to his profile.

From 1996 to 2003, according to Grinberg’s LinkedIn profile, he worked as an “assistant manager” at Camden Market Properties and Holding, which was founded by Bebo Kobo, an Israeli-Bulgarian businessman and the father of Grinberg’s partner in Koolanoo O.D. (Oded Kobo. In 2014 Bebo Kobo sold a large swathe of Camden Market to Israeli businessman Teddy Sagi. Kobo claims that he never had any business or commercial relationship with Grinberg.

Guy Grinberg with his business partner O.D. Kobo in 2008 (Facebook screenshot)

According to Channel 12 news, most of those arrested have claimed no knowledge of any fraud. According to reports, the company they worked for promised high salaries to those who would work hard.

Israel is a hub for online investment scams. They also operate from Cyprus, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

When the binary options industry was outlawed via Knesset legislation in October 2017, largely as a result of investigative reporting by The Times of Israel that began with a March 2016 article entitled “The wolves of Tel Aviv,” some scammers shifted to schemes involving forex trading or cryptocurrency speculation.

Israeli authorities have not prosecuted any online investment fraudsters despite the fact the industry has employed thousands and millions of Israelis who defrauded victims around the world of billions of dollars.

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