Two well-known Jewish businessmen are believed to be among the stakeholders in a secretive holding company that recently purchased a key piece of Jerusalem property from the cash-strapped Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
The Greek Orthodox church is the second-largest landowner in Israel.
Hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt is purportedly among the investors in Oranim Ltd., which was registered in 2016 by Trident Nominees, a company based in the Isle of Man. Israeli businessman David Sofer is reportedly a second shareholder in Oranim. Steinhardt, Sofer and a third unnamed party are the directors of Abu Tor Properties, which purchased a long-term lease from the church for 2.5 acres of land in the neighborhood of Abu Tor, with plans to build dozens of luxury apartments in the area, the Times of Israel reported.
Oranim is one of several secretive companies that have recently purchased land from the patriarchate.
In early July, the patriarchate secretly sold 123 acres of property in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Jerusalem to private real estate companies. That same month, the church sold a 99-year lease on prime real estate near the iconic clock tower in Jaffa to a company called “Clock Quarter” for $1.5 million.
The patriarchate secretly sold off 172 acres of land in Caesarea in June, including the ancient Roman amphitheater and hippodrome there, for an undisclosed sum to an ambiguous Caribbean-based holding company called Saint Ventures.