Police probe alleged political favors at Transport Ministry

Miri Regev  credit: Amit Shabi, Yedioth Ahronoth
Miri Regev credit: Amit Shabi, Yedioth Ahronoth

Israel Police raided the ministry today after an investigative Channel 13 program claimed projects were promoted in cities where the mayor supported Transport Minister Miri Regev.

Israel Police national fraud squad (Lahav 433) today launched a probe into suspected fraud and breach of trust at the Ministry of Transport, in the wake of the "HaMakor" investigative program by Channel 13 News journalist Raviv Drucker. This morning police detectives raided the Ministry of Transport offices in Jerusalem, conducted searches and seized documents.

Israel Police said, "An investigation has been opened under the instructions of the Attorney General and the State Attorney on suspicion of offenses in the field of integrity and obstruction of justice, allegedly committed in the Ministry of Transport, following events revealed in an investigative report. The investigation continues."

The traffic light system

According to "HaMakor," Minister of Transport Miri Regev and her aides were ranking cities and towns using a traffic light system based on the ability of mayors and local authority heads and senior officials in the authority to help Regev in the Likud primaries. The investigation depicted Regev's conduct as someone who was acting unprofessionally and managed the Ministry of Transport according to her personal political interests.

Among other things, documents were presented in the investigative program showing that Regev made decisions favoring or shunning cities and towns using the same ranking based on the ability of the mayor or local authority head to help her with votes in the primaries. The investigation included documents, correspondence and recordings of Regev and her immediate entourage, including director general Moshe Ben Zaken and spokesman Dudi Sassi.

HaMakor interviewed Yonatan Yehosef, Regev's former chief of staff, who said, "It was actually set according to a combination of the results of the primaries that Miri Regev received in the last Likud elections. 'Green' represents authorities that you have to give to, you have to fight for them. 'Yellow' represents authorities that, if possible, it would be nice. If it seems that the Ministry of Finance is streaming the money to us - fine. If not, it's not the end of the world. "White'' means send letters, and we'll talk."

In the investigative porogram, documents were also presented, which Regev had signed by hand, on decisions that were made "in accordance with the guidance of the professional authorities." According to Yehosef's testimony, it was written this way even in cases where the professionals did not think so. Cities that received priority included Ashkelon, Nof HaGalil, the Druze settlement of Kisra-Sumei and the Nahal Sorek regional council.

A warning letter to Channel 13

Meanwhile, Regev has hired the services of Adv. Amit Hadad who sent a warning letter to Channel 13. In the letter, Regev claimed that the investigative program is distorted and false and that Yehosef stole documents from the office and even fabricated them - for example, the one concerning the method by which Regev prioritizes heads of authorities which, was called a "traffic light" in HaMakor.

Adv. Hadad's letter also claims, "Our client is not familiar with the pages you presented in the program. An inspection at the office reveals that there are indeed supervision and monitoring tables whose aim is to enable effective and efficient supervision of the various requests, and these tables even include colors, but there is no hint or connection in them to affiliation or political support. On the contrary, the colors deal with the question of who is the organization handling it, what is the status of the handling, and so on. Nothing to do with prioritizing authorities based on affinity or political connection."

Concrete allegations were also made denying the decisions mentioned in the investigative program regarding Road 40, Emek Hayarden, Arad, Beit Shemesh, Netivot and Bnei Reem and it was pointed out that since Regev became Minister of Transport dozens of projects have been funded, regardless of political affiliations of the various authorities, "But according to the opinions of professional bodies and the policies of the Ministry."

Ministry of Transport: A fabricated and false investigation

The Ministry of Transport said in response, "It is to be regretted that a few weeks after the broadcast of Drucker's false investigative program, Israel Police has come to look for documents that do not exist at the Ministry of Transport.

"The truth is simple. This is a fabricated investigation. There is and has never been a preference on a political basis. The Ministry of Transport distributes its budgets according to the policy and decision of the professionals, and any other claim is false.

"The Ministry of Transport will cooperate with the investigation to prove how far-fetched the claims made by Drucker in his investigative program are."

Presumption of innocence: It should be stressed that this is the early stage of a criminal investigation and those involved have not been charged with committing any offense, and they have the right to be presumed innocent.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 10, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Miri Regev  credit: Amit Shabi, Yedioth Ahronoth
Miri Regev credit: Amit Shabi, Yedioth Ahronoth
Twitter Facebook Linkedin RSS Newsletters גלובס Israel Business Conference 2018