This morning, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced Faina Kirschenbaum, a former member of Knesset for Minister of Finance Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beitenu party and a former deputy minister of the interior, to ten years in prison following her conviction on corruption charges. Former Ministry of Agriculture director general Rami Cohen was sentenced to two-and-a-half years imprisonment. Kirschenbaum was also sentence to a NIS 900,000 fine, while Cohen was fined NIS 180,000.
"The work of sentencing is hard and painful, and doubly so when public figures with an illustrious past who have to pay a heavy price for their deeds stand before the court," Judge Yaron Levy said in handing down the sentences.
"For all the pain involved, it is vital that the interests of deterrence should prevail in a society that seeks to thrive. A forgiving attitude would be liable to lead to a cutting of corners. Law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes should know that their money is not free for all, and that a leader, or any public figure, who hardens their heart and puts their hand in the public till for their own needs, or for the needs of their family, their party, their associates, their status, their benefit or pleasure, will be punished with the full rigor of the law.
"Kirschenbaum acted in a corrupt and despicable manner, took bribes systematically and in a sophisticated way from eight different people, and carved out for herself money from the public purse amounting to a cumulative NIS 2 million."
Kirschenbaum and Cohen's lawyers said that they would appeal against the verdicts and the sentences.
Kirschenbaum and Cohen were convicted in a wide-ranging government corruption affair after being indicted on twelve charges arising from 28 cases. Kirschenbaum, formerly secretary of the Yisrael Beitenu party, was responsible for distributing funds allocated to coalition parties amounting to NIS 1.2 billion. She was convicted of taking bribes amounting to about NIS 2 million between 2008 and 2014 from, among other entities, the Samaria Development Company, the Megilot local council, the Ayalim non-profit organization, and the Binyamin Regional Council community center. Judge Levy described how Kirschenbaum would demand money for her personal use, for her party and for her associates from entities to which she allocated coalition party funds.
Cohen, who was one of the founders of the Yisrael Beitenu party and a close friend of Kirschenbaum was convicted of bribery, fraud, aggravated forgery, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and use of threats. According to the verdict, he had a "give and take" relationship with Kirschenbaum, and exploited his connections and influence in the party to obtain personal benefits.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 14, 2021
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