Finance Ministry official Frida Israeli warned that Israel may lose its status as a member of the international OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) if it fails to uphold an international information-sharing treaty.
Israel cannot comply at present because of gemachim’s immunity from financial scrutiny. Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee Moshe Gafni will only allow the gemachim to be included in an OECD probe if their activities remain mostly exempt from oversight and this may be impossible.
In the wake of September 11, 2001, revelations of secret Swiss accounts financing terror prompted the USA and other OECD countries to crack down on international tax havens and money laundering. They enacted a treaty requiring 109 countries to exchange financial information about each other’s citizens.
Dr. Eitan Regev, an economist with the Israel Democracy Institute, believes that the thousands of gemachim stand between many chareidi families and destitution.
Tel Aviv University Law Professor Yoram Margaliot likewise write that “gemachim are philanthropic institutions” that must be treated differently lest they collapse.