Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Belarus Jewish leader admits to tax-evasion, denies other charges

Yuri Dorn, a leader of the Jewish community of Belarus, has pleaded guilty to tax evasion but is continuing to deny charges that he abused his position.

Dorn was president of the Union of Religious Jewish Congregations in Belarus at the time of his arrest last year. He is charged with tax evasion, to which he admitted last week according to the Belarus paper Nasha Niva, and abuse of power or authority. The prosecutors accuse Dorn of renting out space belonging to the Jewish community without permission. Dorn denies the power abuse charges.

The maximum penalty for tax evasion is up to seven years in jail and foreclosure of all assets. If Dorn also is convicted of abuse of power he may be sentenced to three to 10 years in jail for that offense.

On March 21, prosecutor Tatiana Rak asked the Central District Court of Minsk to hand down a five-year sentence to be served in a medium security facility. She also requested the seizure and foreclosure of all Dorn's assets and his disbarment from serving in publicly elected positions for five years. BelaPan, a local news agency, reported the verdict will be announced on March 29.

Last month prosecutors in Minsk dropped bribery charges which they initially included in their indictment.

Dorn was arrested in March 2012 on allegations that he had mismanaged the community’s property for personal gain. Police also said Dorn had been caught accepting a $13,000 bribe in a sting operation.

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