Investigation of a far-reaching corruption affair in Israel became an open investigation early this morning with the arrest for questioning of ten suspects and the detaining of nine others on suspicion of involvement in bribery, fraud, money laundering, and other offenses.
The list of suspects contains two heads of local councils in the north; a former mayor whose name was previously linked to criminal affairs, was cleared of any suspicion, and currently heads a governmental authority; a former senior assistant of a Likud minister; a former Public Works Authority deputy CEO; the CEO of a large company; and other senior officeholders.
Permission was given this evening to report that Kiryat Ata Mayor Yaakov Peretz was one of the suspects in the affair, His remand was extended by four days, after the police asked the court to extend his remand by seven days. Judge Einat Ron ruled, "The investigation is extensive, complicated, and on a large scale. A great deal of evidence is involved. The investigation is just beginning."
Permission was also given to report that Tel Mond Local Council Adv. Shmuel Sisso, whose term as appointed local council chairman is from 2017 to 2023, is suspected of accepting a bribe. His lawyer, Adv. Adi Carmeli, claims that Sisso was told in the investigation that the solicitation of a bribe was for extension of Sisso's appointment in his position by contacting Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion. In his interrogation, Sisso asked to undergo a polygraph test. The police asked for a seven-day extension of Sisso's remand, but received only a four-day extension.
Carmeli said, "The suspicions against my client are completely illogical. My client has no connection to Moshe Lion, and has never spoken to him. My client has a direct challenge with Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri, who appointed him. He asked to undergo a polygraph test, but the police don't want to allow him to take the test."
A year-long covert investigation
The investigation is being conducted by the economic unit in the Israel Police Lahav 433 unit, in cooperation with the Israel Tax Authority Yahalom unit, accompanied by the Central District State Attorney's Office. The police reported that the open investigation follows a year-long covert investigation.
The investigation gave rise to suspicions that senior public servants, together with others, allegedly committed corruption offenses with involvement by influential people in government companies and governmental institutions. According to what is suspected, but has not yet been thoroughly clarified at this stage, construction and infrastructure tenders were biased and tailored to contractors in return for promises of favors and jobs in construction companies or local authorities.
The investigative findings indicate that interested parties promoted their business affairs by committing offenses in order to persuade decision-makers in government companies to promote their affairs. It is also suspected that senior officeholders in local authorities and government ministries are also allegedly involved in promoting the affairs of interested parties in return for bribes, or from other improper motives.
Presumption of innocence: all the suspects have not been convicted of any offence and must be considered innocent until proven otherwise.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 4, 2019
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