The owner of Beitar Jerusalem in the Israeli Premier League has been arrested alongside seven others on charges of cryptocurrency fraud. According to the Israeli Police, the estimated worth of the fraud reaches hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

Moshe Hogeg with Beitar Jerusalem's fans
Moshe Hogeg talking to the Beitar Jerusalem fans before an Israeli league match. (Image: Twitter/middeeasteye)

Moshe Hogeg, the boss of Beitar, was held in the early hours of Thursday, following a raid on multiple home and business offices, the police confirmed. Those arrested are suspected of enticing investors into crypto projects that did not happen. According to a police statement, they “acted jointly in a systematic manner, while deceiving investors in a number of projects in the field of cryptocurrencies”. The investigation lasted for several months and resulted in accusations of money laundering, fraud and sexual offenses.

A court spokesman said the eight detained in this case are held on remand.

The millionaire claims he’s innocent

Hogeg canceled a crypto conference that was supposed to be held on Thursday afternoon, writing on his Facebook account that “it’s all for the best”. He is an avid crypto advocate and posts regularly about the subject on his social media platforms. The businessman describes himself as an entrepreneur, investor and “CryptoPunk” in his Twitter bio.

“Hogeg vehemently denies the suspicions against him and is cooperating fully with the investigators,” his attorneys Moshe Mazor and Amit Hadad said in a media release. “We are sure that at the end of the investigation it will become clear that there is no basis for the allegations against him.”

The case has implications on the wider global scene. FC Barcelona released a statement on Thursday announcing they canceled their contract with NFT marketplace Ownix with immediate effect.

Previously, a deal was agreed to create and market digital assets known as non-fungible tokens through the platform. On the other hand, Ownix said on Twitter that they were terminating a consultation agreement with Hogeg, also claiming the Israeli businessman didn’t hold shares in the platform. Ownix added it had nothing to do with Hogeg’s legal matters.

Hogeg’s club in Israel, Beitar Jerusalem, currently sit eighth in the first league table, with 11 points in nine games, eight less than leaders Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

The court in Rishon Lezion has extended Hogeg’s detention mandate until next Wednesday.