Israel Approves Extradition to U.S. of Two Securities Fraud Suspects

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Israel has approved the extradition to the United States of two men indicted in New York on multiple counts of securities fraud that carry lengthy jail terms, the Justice Ministry said.

The two suspects were arrested at their homes in Israel last July after U.S. authorities accused them of engaging in a stock manipulation scheme between 2011 and 2015. The Yerushalayim District Court agreed on Sunday to an extradition request by the New York Southern District Court.

In a statement on Monday, the Justice Ministry gave no date for the extradition of the men, but said that the two had consented to it. Lawyers for the two did not immediately return calls for comment.

According to a U.S. indictment filed last year, the two men and another suspect had worked with two unnamed stock promoters, one from New Jersey and one from Florida, to run a “pump-and-dump” scheme.

The defendants would acquire shares in thinly traded companies, send millions of spam e-mails inducing investors to buy the stocks in order to drive up the price, and then sell off their holdings.

U.S. authorities last year said that the third suspect, a U.S. citizen with residences in Moscow and Tel Aviv, was at large. His circumstances were not immediately clear on Monday.

According to the Justice Ministry, an amended U.S. indictment in March added counts such as computer hacking and online gambling to the original charges.

Prosecutors in the United States contend that that three men ran a criminal enterprise that hacked into a dozen companies’ networks, stealing the personal information of more than 100 million people.

In the case of one of those companies, JPMorgan, prosecutors said records belonging to 83 million customers were stolen.

At the time of the arrests, Israeli officials neither confirmed nor denied any link to the JPMorgan case, and it was not mentioned in the Justice Ministry statement.