Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 4 August 2020

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli fined Dh2.7 million for tax evasion

The former girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio has also been sentenced to nine months of community service

Model Bar Refaeli has been convicted on tax evasion charges. EPA  
Model Bar Refaeli has been convicted on tax evasion charges. EPA  

Supermodel Bar Refaeli has been sentenced to community service and handed down a large fine after being convicted on tax evasion charges.

The Israeli model, 35, has been ordered to pay a 2.5 million shekel (Dh2.68m) penalty for providing false tax returns while living abroad.

Refaeli, the former girlfriend of actor Leonardo DiCaprio, pleaded guilty to evading taxes on income close to $10m (Dh36.7m).

The model was ordered to complete nine months of community service, while her mother, Tzipi, who was also convicted of tax offences, was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Israeli top model Bar Refaeli (C-R), her mother, Zipi (L), her father, Raffi (C-L) and lawyers are pictured in a court in Tel Aviv, a court in Tel Aviv, on July 20, 2020. Refaeli signed a plea bargain agreement with authorities to settle a long-standing tax evasion case against her and her family. The deal will require Refaeli to serve nine months of community service while her mother, Zipi, will be sent to prison for 16 months. The two are also ordered to pay a $1.5 million fine on top of millions of back taxes owed to the state. / AFP / POOL / Oded Balilty
Bar Refaeli, centre right, her mother, Tzipi, left, her father, Raffi, centre left, and lawyers, at a courtroom in Tel Aviv on Monday. AFP

Tzipi Refaeli, who acts as her daughter's agent, was also ordered to pay a 2.5m shekel fine.

The pair were sentenced in a Tel Aviv court on Monday, and must both pay their fines on top of outstanding taxes owed to the state.

Refaeli, who has three children with her husband Adi Ezra, is also host of The X Factor Israel and co-hosted the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.

Both women pleaded guilty and signed a plea bargain in the case, which dates back to 2015.

The model admitted to not declaring her global income for certain years and said she lived overseas to avoid paying tax in Israel.

Israeli tax law determines residency primarily upon whether the person spent most of the calendar year in the country. Refaeli claimed that she hadn’t and therefore did not have to declare her worldwide income in certain years.

According to the indictment, the model said she earned $7.2m between 2009 and 2012, while claiming to live abroad.

Refaeli attempted to prove she was living in the US with DiCaprio and was therefore not liable to some tax. Judges found her relationship with the Titanic actor did not qualify as a “family unit”, meaning she should have paid full tax.

Refaeli’s mother was charged with failure to report income, avoiding paying taxes and aiding someone else in evading tax payments. She was also convicted of signing property leases under the names of other family members to conceal her daughter's residency status.

Additional reporting by AP

Updated: July 21, 2020 06:01 PM

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