Bar Refaeli sentenced for tax evasion in Israel

Bar Refaeli sentenced for tax evasion in Israel
Bar Refaeli’s reputation has been sullied by the case (Ariel Schalit/AP)

An Israeli court has sentenced model Bar Refaeli to nine months of community service for tax evasion.

Her mother has been jailed for 16 months, ending a prolonged case that has sullied the image of a once-beloved national icon.

Refaeli entered the Tel Aviv courthouse on Sunday in a beige T-shirt and wearing a light blue surgical face mask.

Bar Refaeli (right) and her mother, Zipi (Ariel Schalit/AP)

She was accompanied by her father, Raffi, her mother, Zipi, and flanked by lawyers.

The 35-year-old Refaeli and her mother were convicted in July on offences of evading paying taxes on income nearing £8 million.

According to a plea bargain accepted by the court, the two were also ordered to pay a 1.5 million dollars (£1.2 milliion) fine on top of millions of back taxes owed to the state.

Zipi Refaeli is set to begin serving her prison sentence next week.

The prolonged case, built around the celebrity model’s worldwide income and the family’s attempts to downplay her ties to Israel, damaged her well-crafted public image as an informal ambassador for the country.

Last year, she hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.

Rafaeli has a lengthy relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio (David Parry/PA)

The case centred on Refaeli’s residence during years when she travelled around the world in high-profile modelling campaigns, graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and had a lengthy romantic relationship with Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Israeli tax law determines residency primarily upon whether the person spent most of the calendar year in the country.

Refaeli claimed she had not done this and therefore did not have to declare her income during certain years.

Prosecutors rejected her claim and charged her with providing incorrect tax information.

Refaeli’s indictment said she earned some 7.2 million dollars (£5.6 million) between the years 2009-2012 while claiming to reside overseas to avoid paying Israeli taxes on her income.

In previous appeals, an Israeli court ruled Refaeli’s relationship with DiCaprio did not qualify as a “family unit” and therefore she could not claim his US residence to avoid paying the full taxes she owed.

Refaeli’s lawyers said the plea bargain proved she had not intentionally evaded paying taxes.

Her mother, who also acted as her agent, was charged with failure to report income, avoiding paying taxes and aiding someone else in evading tax payments.

The indictment said she signed leases for her daughter under the names of other family members to blur Refaeli’s actual residency status and refrained from declaring her own income as her daughter’s agent.

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