Rabbi-to-the-real-estate-stars accused of money laundering in Israeli apartment deal

August 16, 2011 04:18PM

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, the Israeli rabbi who’s highly connected in New York City’s real estate world, is in trouble with the law again, according to Haaretz, this time for allegedly exploiting his father-in-law, Argentina’s chief rabbi, to launder money for the purchase of two apartments.

The Argentinian rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Ben Hamo, is currently being sued by the developers of an upscale Israeli apartment complex for not making good on a contract to purchase a pair of $1.15 million apartments, which he signed as a guarantor.

But Ben Hamo submitted a written disposition to the Jerusalem District Court, alleging that he was pressured to act as a guarantor by his daughter, and her husband Pinto, who promised to pay for the apartments in which they intended to live. He claimed Pinto should be sued because the apartment was bought for Pinto with Pinto’s money. But Pinto never paid. That followed an earlier incident where Ben Hamo said he was pushed to open a bank account in Argentina for the couple.

“In retrospect, it became clear to me that all this happened so that I could be exploited and Rabbi Pinto’s money could be laundered,” Ben Hamo said. [Haaretz]