JERUSALEM — Israel's Supreme Court has sentenced one of the country's most prominent businessmen to three years in prison for securities fraud.

The court ruled that former IDB Holding Corp. controlling shareholder Nochi Dankner, 63, will begin serving his prison term on October 2 for his role in carrying out millions of dollars' worth of fraudulent transactions in an attempt to influence the share price of the troubled company.

Dankner — once one of the richest men in Israel — was also given a one-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay a fine of NIS 800,000 ($209,000).

IDB took on millions of dollars in debt following a series of bad business deals. The courts wrested control of IDB from Dankner as a result.

Dankner, a favourite of Israel's business community, was often credited with helping rescue Israel's economy at the height of a Palestinian uprising. Under his leadership, IDB became Israel's largest holding company - that included a major supermarket chain, cellphone operator, airline and one of the country's main newspapers - and Dankner became a celebrity.

During the trial Dankner received dozens of letters and various documents in his support from different organisations, including the World Jewish Congress and Bar-Ilan University. Individual letters were received from top officers in the IDF, politicians and rabbis