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SA chartered accountant jailed in Greece, but friends insist he’s innocent




Just before Rosh Hashanah, Abraham’s friend, Perli Kaplan, set up the crowd page, “Let’s Save Yuval” on “Yuval Abraham is an ex-South African chartered accountant,” she wrote. “His parents are retired academics, and his maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Yuval was raised with the values of honesty and integrity. Materialism is a word that is foreign to him. Yet, he stands accused by his previous company, where he served as chief financial officer, of misappropriating funds to buy luxury items. His assets were frozen, and he was removed from his position.

“All Yuval wants to do is clear his name. He is in a desperate position, and doesn’t know where to turn. He is one man against a massive multinational corporation. An expert forensic accountant has given hundreds of hours of his time free of charge to examine the evidence, and is convinced that Yuval is innocent and has been made a “fall guy” by a corrupt institution and corrupt lawyers, including his own defence attorney,” she continued.

“Today, Yuval sits in a dirty Greek prison in terrible conditions awaiting an extradition hearing. Doctors have certified that he is in a desperate physical and mental condition. There was a bail hearing, and the Greek judge acknowledged his terrible physical condition and noted that the case against him was ‘exceedingly weak’. However, the judge has insisted that in order to attain bail, Yuval must deposit €50 000 (R809 854) with the court as security, saying, ‘You are Jewish – you can afford it.’

“To save Yuval’s life and help clear his name, we require funds that neither Yuval nor his family have. We are turning to you to assist a fellow Jew in dire need on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. This is a case of pidyon shuyim deOras, a mitzvah so important that one can even sell a Sefer Torah to finance it,” she concluded.

Rabbi Matthew Liebenberg said on Facebook that Abraham was a former member of the Claremont Wynberg Shul in Cape Town. “This is a real case of redeeming a captive, the greatest form of charity,” he wrote.

In July this year, the SA Jewish Report reported that Abraham was on the run after being charged with falsifying invoices while he was chief financial officer at Hiscox Services in Bermuda. The story was written after speaking directly to Bermuda Police. Attempts to find contacts to share Abraham’s side of the story were unsuccessful.

“The loss to the company is about $1.8 million [R26.3 million]. A complaint was made to the Bermuda Police Service, and a file of evidence regarding the case submitted to the department of public prosecutions. Information about the allegations was then laid before the criminal court in Bermuda, and a warrant issued for Mr Abraham’s arrest, which has been circulated to colleagues internationally via Interpol,” said Bermuda Police spokesperson Robin Simmons at the time.

On 26 September, Acting Detective Superintendent Nicholas Pedro of the crime division at the Bermuda Police confirmed that, “following an international appeal for assistance, Mr Yuval Abraham was arrested in Athens, Greece. He is being held in custody pending a hearing on extradition to Bermuda. We would like to thank the media and our partners for their assistance in locating Mr Abraham.

“The Bermuda Police Service uses international law-enforcement partners in cases such as this that have an international component, and would like to recognise their assistance in this matter,” Pedro said.

In August, after Abraham’s arrest in Greece, Kaplan wrote on Facebook, “I am sad, disappointed, and disillusioned with the world today. A friend who is very close to my heart has spent the past 16 months being unfairly, unjustly, cruelly, maliciously and evilly [sic] hunted by a huge international insurance company that he worked for. He has been accused of a fraud that he clearly, based on so much evidence, did not commit. An alleged fraud of 1.8 million dollars, where more than four times that amount has been spent hunting him … this isn’t logical.

“So many lies have been written about him, about the case, and about the conditions under which he has been living for the past 16 months. This story came to a climax on Thursday morning [15 August] when he was arrested. He is sitting in a prison cell with real criminals in a country where he is all alone. I am petrified for him. And I am also petrified for all of us … what kind of a world are we living in? A world where people are so hungry for power and money that they have no values, no morals, no humanity. Shame on you all who are a part of this despicable behaviour. We will find better lawyers than you, we will put the truth out there, and we will get Yuval justice. Please say a very special prayer for Yuval Yehoshua ben Yaffa this Shabbat,” she concluded.

Abraham remains in prison. Only 11% of the €50 000 for his bail has been raised.

The SA Jewish Report approached Kaplan and the Bermuda Police for comment, but both chose not to respond.

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