An Israeli Arab citizen who tried to get out of paying taxes by absconding to Palestinian Authority-controlled areas was sentenced to 46 months in prison Sunday, after he was “retrieved” from PA-controlled areas by the IDF. The culprit, Hassan Gabua, was sentenced after agreeing to a plea deal in which he admitted to filing receipts for 226 phony business deals that did not take place, in order to claim tax deductions on business expenses involved.
According to Judge George Amoray, who tried the case in the Beersheva District Court, the defendant's actions were committed in order to enable him to avoid paying taxes altogether, through "misleading and cheating inspectors,” and were made more serious by the sums involved and the number of offenses.
According to the court, Gabua owed NIS 12.5 million ($3.9 million) in value-added sales tax (VAT) payments alone. Gabua was first charged in 2009, with several subsequent charges for the cheating tax officials filed in the years since as well. A hearing was set, but Gabua failed to show up, with the court learning later on that he had ran away to PA-controlled areas.
About six weeks ago, Israeli security officials discovered where Gabua was hiding, and a joint task force involving officials of the IDF, Israel Police, the Tax Authority, the Finance Ministry, and other agencies arrested him, whereupon he agreed to plead guilty in return for a a shorter jail sentence. Gabua was also instructed to pay a fine of NIS 400,000 ($105,000).
In addition to the current case, Gabua faces other charges for misappropriation of funds at several companies he headed, tax officials said.