Sydney, Saturday, October 14, 2000
not kosher for three in $42m laundering
THREE members of an
ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, who
admitted involvement in a $42 million
international money-laundering scheme,
have escaped going to jail mainly because
of their religious beliefs.
head of the family, Nachum
masterminded the racket, was jailed for
five years and ordered to serve a minimum
non-parole term of 2 years.
But his wife Rita, 56, and sons
Napthali, 36, and Hershel,
34, were freed on suspended sentences,
with Victorian County Court judge
Michael Strong saying prison for
them would be
Judge Strong said few members of the
public would have any understanding of the
rigours of the "Adass strain of
He was satisfied the Goldbergs were
genuinely devout in their beliefs in a
sect which banned television, radio,
cinema, alcohol and tobacco and newspapers
other than certain Jewish
All four Goldbergs had pleaded guilty
to conspiring to defraud the
"I am convinced that prison for a Jew
of this level or orthodoxy would be
extraordinarily difficult," Judge Strong
"Delivery of kosher food to the jail
and concerns about its contamination would
be a constant issue -- and absolutely
vital for the prisoner."
The jail would
not be able to provide for the
observance of many Orthodox
requirements for daily living.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish prisoners would
be a prime target for "discrimination
and abuse or worse by other prisoners
because of their unusual
The same considerations applied to
Naphtali and Hershel Goldberg.
He sentenced Rita Goldberg to 15
months, Napthali Goldberg to 12 months and
Hershel Goldberg to nine months, all
Judge Strong said all three had played
relatively minor roles in the scheme.
Nachum Goldberg had been in complete
control of the enterprise.
Judge Strong said that while it was
impossible to determine the amount of tax
evaded, it was likely to have exceeded $20
He said the principal offenders had not
come before the court. Judge Strong said
the fraud in which the Goldbergs conspired
was committed not by them but by the tax
evaders themselves whom the Goldbergs
refused to identify. The Goldbergs'
"commission" earned from the
money-laundering had been at least
The scheme Nachum Goldberg operated
masqueraded as a conduit for charitable
funds to Israel, said the judge.
False documents and a sprinkling of
legitimate charitable cheques maintained
investigators tried to follow the money
trail they hit a brick wall in the form
of the refusal of the Israeli
Government or the Israel banks to
co-operate," the judge said.
Judge Strong sentenced the Goldbergs on
June 21, but suppressed reporting of the
sentences because disclosure of certain
information in the sentencing remarks
could have aborted another unrelated
is original Sydney Morning Herald
Related story on this
comment: Truly the mercy of some men
surpasseth all understanding.