Montreal businessman Samy Bitton has been sentenced in Israel to 18 months in prison for importing 800 kilograms of cocaine, Le Journal de Montréal reported on Jan. 7.
Bitton, who was the promoter of the luxury condo project at Montreal’s Old Port called 5e Quai, was arrested in Israel in June. He pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and tax evasion, as well as complicity in the importation of drugs.
The other charges were dropped in a plea bargain, in exchange for his co-operation with the Israeli justice system in its investigation of the criminal Abergil family, according to the report.
Bitton’s judgment was handed down on Dec. 28.
Bitton, who also does business in Israel, must also pay NIS 4.5 million in damages (over $1.6 million Cdn) to the victims of a bloody war between the Abergils and its rival clan, the Rosensteins.
According to the prosecution, Bitton laundered about $10 million Cdn that helped finance a series of gangland attacks causing several deaths, including those of three innocent victims, and injuries to about 50 people, including a bombing in Tel Aviv.
Le Journal reports that the court seized a residential building project belonging to Bitton and his son Nir David in a Tel Aviv suburb, to partially cover the penalty.
In the judgment, it was revealed that the Israeli underworld transported almost a ton of cocaine from Peru to Montreal hidden in an industrial machine.
In Israel, the drugs were warehoused in a building owned by Bitton’s company, Sanielle Finance.
Bitton testified that he did not know there was cocaine concealed in the machinery.
But the judgment discloses a connection between Bitton and the Abergils going back to 2003, when one of the clan’s members went to the same building and removed a large quantity of cocaine from the wheels of a machine housed there.
After that, Bitton agreed to collaborate with the criminal gang out of fear of reprisals. This included transporting by air more than $3 million Cdn from the Abergils via “mules” who evaded airport controls.