Igal Ahouvi is an eccentric billionaire who made his fortune in real estate. Despite being an art connoisseur and philanthropist who frequently appears in high profile public events with his spouse, top model Galit Gutman, Ahouvi avoids the media and rarely interviews. He manages his reputation mostly through select press releases and articles that talk well about him and his endeavors.
People close to him describe him as a cold businessman with a capricious personality. A real estate magnate once told TheMarker, a leading Israeli newspaper, that Ahouvi has issues and working with him is highly unpredictable and risky. There have been times when he walked out of a deal without any explanation and disappeared with no regard for others. He also has a reputation as a habitual troublemaker and will get into fights and arguments, often with no apparent reason.
Over the years, Ahouvi's business partners have filed a string of lawsuits and disputes against him, due to his personal and business conduct.
In October 2007, Ahouvi and Delek Global Real Estate paid a settlement amount of 21.5 million CHF to Swiss-based Jelmoli. The suit was filed against Ahouvi when he backed out of a deal to buy 88 properties from Jelmoli for 3.4 billion CHF. Ahouvi was dealing through his offshore company, Blenheim Property Group.
A year later, in September 2008, Ahouvi again faced a lawsuit over breaching his contract with the Israeli Habas Group. He agreed to buy their share in UK Hilton Hotels, but changed his mind and didn't complete the deal. The Tel Aviv district court favored Habas Group and ordered Blenheim to complete the deal and pay 3.1 million GBP for Habas Group's 3.8% share in Hilton UK. The judge also ordered Ahouvi to pay legal fees and expenses of 1.3 million NIS. She wrote that Ahouvi avoided straight answers and seemed like a person who only honors contracts when convenient to him.
In 2012, Ahouvi's habitual decision to back out of deals resulted in losing millions and significant damages to his partners. Ahouvi had partnered with 3 Israeli entrepreneurs on a timeshare tourism project based in Vietnam. As per the contract, he had agreed to fund the project with hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for a major stake, but only paid 3 million dollars and caused a financial crisis leading to the project's apparent failure. Thousands of timeshare holders called the resort project fraudulent and aimed to file lawsuits.
n 2021, the Israeli Securities Authority's Administrative Enforcement Committee ordered Ahouvi to pay a fine of 350,000 NIS and banned him from holding positions in public companies for a year. This decision came after Ahouvi violated his obligation as Chairman and majority shareholder in Ravad, a public company. He had failed to report a private real estate deal despite being legally obliged by an activity demarcation arrangement he signed when he acquired control of Ravad. Ahouvi appealed to the Israeli district court, which reaffirmed the guilty verdict in August 2022 but lowered the fine to 200,000 NIS and an 8-month ban. This was Ahouvi's second violation, after being sanctioned 300,000 NIS in 2018 for failure to disclose information in another real estate deal.
As of now, Ahouvi lives in the shadows and maintains a low profile to avoid the business controversies surrounding him, while promoting his art and philanthropic activities. The business community knows him as a person who is hard to deal with and still questions his moral and business prowess.
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