"I'm a rabbi and deal only in spiritual matters," Wolff told Channel 9, adding that "there is such a partnership" as between Issachar and Zebulun, the biblical figures. "A businessman and rabbi work together. One studies Torah, the other does business. [Billionare] Alexander [Granovsky] and I are partners. Every time he goes to close a deal he says to me 'Rabbi, I need you to pray,' and I pray. Every time I need money for activities I ask him for money and he gives."
Over the years that Nochi Dankner has wielded control over the [massive Israeli corporation the] IDB group, questions have arisen over his ties with kabbalists such as Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto and Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan, popularly known as the X-Ray Rabbi. Dankner has often been seen making a pilgrimage to seek their advice and blessings.
It now seems that if Jewish-Ukrainian billionaire Alexander Granovsky takes over IDB, the conglomerate will be led by a man enjoying even tighter connections to Torah scholars.
On Saturday night Russian-language Channel 9 broadcast a report on Granovsky and [Chabad] Rabbi Avraham Wolff [actually spelled Wolf with one “f”], Odessa's chief rabbi. Wolff describes how he and Granovsky have helped Dankner retain control over the IDB group.
"I'm a rabbi and deal only in spiritual matters," Wolff told Channel 9, adding that "there is such a partnership" as between Issachar and Zebulun, the biblical figures. "A businessman and rabbi work together. One studies Torah, the other does business. Alexander and I are partners. Every time he goes to close a deal he says to me 'Rabbi, I need you to pray,' and I pray. Every time I need money for activities I ask him for money and he gives."
Channel 9's Maya Zinshtein found that most of the money controlled by Wolff and Granovsky is in a fund linked to Chabad, the New York-based Hasidic movement. The two men use the fund, registered in the Netherlands, to control BGI Investments, a publicly traded company listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.…
Granovsky controls BGI through a company called Chabad 770, which owns a controlling stake in the firm ZBI that in turn owns 80% of BGI. The chief executive of BGI, whose market value is about NIS 50 million, is [Rabbi] Yosef Schneersohn [of Kfar Chabad, Israel], with Wolff serving as chairman. BGI's debt to bondholders, scheduled to be paid off within three years, is estimated at NIS 108 million and is covered by about NIS 168 million in cash, putting its cash surplus at NIS 60 million.
In August, BGI bought a 20% stake in Emblaze, a company incorporated in Israel and trading in London, for 75 pence a share, or $25 million, but the stock currently trades at just 50 pence. BGI also undertook to acquire a controlling stake in Emblaze, but this commitment was transferred to its parents, ZBI and Chabad 770. Wolff was subsequently appointed chairman of Emblaze, with Schneersohn deputy chairman.
Granovsky and Dankner intend to gain control over Emblaze's copious cash, amounting to about NIS 500 million. This would help them take control of IDB Holding Corporation, the company that controls the IDB group.…
Wolf and Granovsky claim the proceeds Chabad 770 makes will all go to tzedaka, presumably funding Chabad projects in Israel, Ukraine and the rest of the Former Soviet Union.
What will really happen remains to be seen.