Today, the Court of Oporto ordered the release of Elad Dror, a Luso-Israeli businessman who is the CEO of Fortera Group and who was detained last Tuesday 16 May in a case linked to property deals and that started with an anonymous denunciation. The name “Babel” was used for this investigation because of Elad Dror’s project to build the highest building in Portugal.
A source close to the proceedings informed PJN that from the tenor of the interrogations it was quite clear that the businessman “had been deceived by other defendants within the scope of talks and negotiations regarding real estate projects”.
The same source added that “Despite the media pressure targeting the court in this highly complex case with the name ‘Babel’, the prosecutor and the judge who presided at the interrogations were brave enough to order the release of the businessman”.
Earlier in the week, a police operation into real estate dealings led to seven people being detained for interrogation. The names of the detainees were splashed all over the media.
Patrocínio Azevedo was said to be the deputy mayor of the municipality of Gaia; João Lopes was his lawyer; Paulo Malafaia was a businessman and consultant; Amândio Dias was a higher technician of the Directorate of Culture of the North; two other detainees were said to be employees of Oporto town call. As for Elad Dror, however, it was widely disseminated that he was a Jewish businessman, a Sephardic Jew who belonged to the Jewish community of Oporto based in Kadoorie synagogue.
The businessman, speaking outside the Court of Criminal Instruction, stated that “As far as I and Fortera are concerned, I’ve never asked anyone to do anything illegal for us. I don’t need it. We have spectacular projects and obviously we should be supported by the Municipality. All the projects will be done. Fortera will prosper, but perhaps not with me leading. I am very interesting for public opinion. I will become less interesting and go to my family, who have five children waiting for me”, underlined Elad Dror.
The city’s Jewish community is shocked that Elad Dror should have been presented to society as a Jew. The President of the Community, Gabriel Senderowicz, said that “Of the first six detainees, we have no idea which are Catholic, Protestant, Adventist or Muslims, but the country was informed that the seventh, his wife and children are Jews. This fact can cause great embarrassment to those sweet children at school, where they have always tried to keep a low profile regarding their origin. To cap it all, it appears that their father had been unfairly detained, given that he has already been released despite the media pressure opposing such a move”, says the President of the Community.
In addition, during the week, the Portuguese press published that Dror was Portuguese and that his wife and his partners of business, all Israelis, are awaiting Portuguese nationality, after having been certified by the Jewish Community of Oporto. On Wednesday, an associate of Elad's in non-real estate businesses told PJN, "We're all under attack. Our names are in the newspapers. We all turn up linked to bad things. No one has ever thanked us for the jobs and investment of 800 millions we brought to Portugal, as well as no one has thanked the community for what it does every day regarding the education of Portuguese teenagers."
Gabriel Senderowicz said on the same day that "Regardless of the real estate deals at stake, any particular case is used to attack the whole community. The Sephardim are presented as the migrants that Portugal does not need. Even the former director of Mossad already appeared in the newspapers linked to supposed Wikipedia tricks. The Board of Directors of the Oporto Jewish Community has already informed Elad Dror's family that we will help them with whatever they need."
Curiously, based on an anonymous source, the Portuguese press falsely announced the arrest of Elad Dror on January 10. The arrest came more than four months later, on the day the European Jewish Association ended its annual meeting in Oporto.
On the same day, the Institute of Registries and Notary (IRN) informed the Jewish Community of Oporto that it "concluded the audit in the scope of nationality and generally considered that the procedures followed were correct".
The IRN statement came three weeks after a letter from the Community that accused it of having been used in a Soviet style antisemitic action, and demanded the "report that the institute has been preparing for more than a year on the law of the Sephardim, and that was presented by the Portuguese press as targeting that Community".
The Community wrote in that letter that "The registrars responsible for the IRN inquiry have always known that the Jewish Community of Oporto and its leadership had no relations, much less illicit ones, with the registry offices. Yet, they did nothing when they saw Kadoorie Synagogue being invaded like a brothel, the Community destroyed, the Chief Rabbi being transported to Lisbon for alleged “active corruption” of the registrars. The CIP/CJP was left to burn", it added.