Montreal real estate promoter Sammy Bitton, the man behind the 5e Quai condominium project in the Old Port of Montreal has been indicted on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering in Tel Aviv Court.
The 5e Quai project suddenly shut their sales office on July 29, after the allegations against Bitton became public. Dvir Bitton, the development company’s president confirmed to The Journal de Montreal that he has asked McGill Real Estate to resell the land. Debby Doktorczyk, president of McGill Real Estate told the Journal that the sale will probably begin in September.
5e Quai, located at 1000 de la Commune, the last waterside property available in downtown Montreal has been controversial from the start. It was originally owned and was going to be developed by alleged Montreal mobsters Vito Rizzuto and his son Nick Jr. Bitton and his son purchased the land in 2011 for 4 Million dollars.
According to the documents filed in Tel Aviv Court, Samy Bitton has been in Israeli prison since June 15th. The courts have valued his family fortune in Israel at approximately 11 million dollars. The courts have seized 18 properties owned by the Bittons in Tel Aviv and a residential project in Tiberias. The have also frozen all bank accounts that Bitton and his family have used to finance various Israeli businesses.
When approached by the TVA News Network at his Hampstead home, the Bitton family refused to comment, entered his car and drove away. Associates also refused to comment.
The indictment comes as a result of a major police investigation, known as Case 512, which has dominated Israeli news for months largely because of the more than a half a dozen mob bosses included among the more than 40 suspects.
The investigation covered a global drug trafficking, money laundering and tax evasion network run by Yitzhak and Meir Abergil, the top lynchpins of Israel’s underworld.
The Abergils, as well as 18 of their associates were also indicted for a range of murders and failed attempts on the life of Israeli gangster Ze’ev Rosenstein in Tel Aviv in December 2003, which left 3 bystanders dead and dozens injured.
The case also includes seven state witnesses mentioned in the indictments, among them well-known and feared mafia enforcers, drug traffickers and associates of the Abergil family.
The indictment focuses on the criminal syndicate’s operations from 2002-2006 when it imported and exported ecstasy, cocaine, hashish and other drugs around the globe from North America to New Zealand, Japan, Europe and South America. The drug trafficking reached a value of at least NIS 227,949,856 during that time period, the indictment alleges.
Yitzhak Abergil was at the top of the totem-pole and managed all the different arms of the organization – the primary groups being in Israel, Europe and Japan.
The indictment details how in May and June 2003, Yitzhak hatched a conspiracy with Yaniv Ben-Simon, Yitzhak’s right-hand man, and D.D., a former top operative turned state’s witness whose name is under gag order, to murder Rosenstein near one of his offices close to the Plumer square in Tel Aviv. Eventually, Yaniv, D.D., Shimon Sabah and state witness E.E. were all working on the plot to murder Rosenstein.
At the time, Rosenstein was probably Israel’s most well-known underworld figure and was involved in a bitter feud with Abergil.
In the failed plot, defendant Shimon Amsalem allegedly stole a car and rigged it with 2 kg. of explosive bricks and a remote detonator. When Rosenstein and his three bodyguards walked into his office, they detonated the bomb, wounding Rosenstein, the bodyguards and a state witness known as G.G.
In November 2003, Yitzhak, Ruhan, Meir and several others began to plan another attempt on Rosenstein’s life at a currency-exchange establishment on Yehuda Halevi Street in Tel Aviv, where he did business, by placing a bomb on the awning of the storefront.
On December 11, 2003, the group activated the bomb when Rosenstein was nearby, killing bystanders Rahamim Tzruya, Moshe Mizrahi and Naftali Magad, and wounding Rosenstein and 50 others, including bodyguards and bystanders.
The case is broken down into 13 separate indictments, some for drug charges and others for murders, with names like “The Big Score,” “The Mule,” “The Million-Dollar Deal” and “12 tons of hashish,” among others.
“The Big Score” gives a window into how the international operations of the Abergil family and their associates worked to make millions in drug trafficking and covered their tracks through legitimate businesses.
The case names four defendants, including the Abergil brothers, Ruhan and Canadian-Israeli businessman Samy Bitton.
The case was built by state witness G.G., a former top member of Ruhan’s gang.
The case began in 1998, when two Abergil associates purchased 800 kg. of cocaine in Peru and stashed it inside the iron wheels of a large industrial machine.
Eventually, sometime between 2001- 2002, a plot was worked out to ship the machine to Canada where Bitton stashed it in a warehouse belonging to his company, Sanielle Finance. In exchange for housing the machine and laundering the drug money though his Cote Des Neiges based finance company, Biton took 10 percent of the profits, the indictment says.
Over the coming year, Bitton allegedly began wiring laundered money back to an account run by G.G. in Israel and sent money by way of “mules” who carried cash on their bodies and flew into Israel on at least seven occasions, totaling well over $2 million. Laundered money also was sent by Biton to G.G., who then gave the cash to Yitzhak Abergil during meetings in a number of places in Europe.
All four defendants named in the Big Score face charges of drug trafficking and membership in a criminal organization, with Bitton also facing money laundering charges.
The indictments also cover the 2003 murder of an Abergil associate named David “Dieudonne” (gift from God) Biton, who allegedly was killed because he mouthed off about some of the crime family’s associates.
The indictment describes how state witness D.D. – himself an Abergil family enforcer and hit man – conspired along with Moti Hassin and Yitzhak Abergil to kill Biton after he exited a nightclub in Holon. The indictment describes how Hassin allegedly invited Biton to the nightclub and had two gunmen wait outside the entrance. Once Biton was intoxicated, Hassin walked with him outside the club, where he was followed on foot by one of the gunman to a secluded street and he was shot twice in the back.
Also indicted Monday as part of the wider Case 512 was Rico Shirazi, a Netanya mob boss, and Asaf Yariv, who are accused of paying a hit man $50,000 in 2003 to murder Guy Yehezkel, an associate of Shirazi’s arch rival, Netanya mob boss Asi Abutbul.
The two also were indicted Monday for plotting to murder Abutbul in Prague where he ran a casino. On August 1, 2004, a man on a motorcycle threw a hand grenade at Abutbul as he entered an armored car outside the casino, but the target was not harmed.
Abutbul himself also has been arrested as part of Case 512 and is expected to be indicted for his role in murders and on organized crime charges.
By Montreal Jewish News, with files from The Jerusalem Post, TVA Nouvelles and Le Journal de Montreal