Tichon quits Israel Ports, alleges corruption [pg. 16]

By DANIEL KENNEMER
January 5, 2006 23:37
2 minute read.

Former Knesset speaker Dan Tichon quit Thursday as chairman of the Israel Ports Company, saying he could no longer tolerate what he described as institutional corruption within the company and among senior government officials. "This is a public asset worth billions, and it's being ruined," he told The Jerusalem Post. "The whole way in which the Ports Company is run is unreasonable, undesirable, and impossible," Tichon charged. The Finance Ministry said it did "not find it appropriate to address the baseless claims raised by Mr. Tichon in his letter," adding that Tichon's resignation came ahead of a hearing scheduled to discuss his performance in office. Tichon spoke of rigged tenders, and even an attempt to have the company's internal watchdog, Yehuda Hoch, declared mentally unfit and removed from his position. "The system [ignored the events and] went on with its agenda. I did not," he said. Tichon claimed that "high-level political intervention" propagated the situation and prevented him from carrying out attempts to clean up the company. "It is not a secret that I was brought in to implement the port reform and eradicate all sorts of acquaintance appointments with gigantic salaries. That was the mandate I received. Eventually, I realized that [my activity] was not to the liking of senior [officials] in the Transportation and Finance Ministries," Tichon said. Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit and Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, he said, "are instructing their representatives on the board of directors not to assist me in these matters, but - to the contrary - to set up obstacles." Tichon claims that if the police or State Comptroller were to investigate the matter, they would get to the root of the problems "within one minute." Sheetrit said he was "surprised" by Tichon's resignation, and would relate to the content of his letter of resignation once he has received it. The Israel Ports board of directors released a statement pledging to receive details from Tichon in order to examine his accusations thoroughly. "The Directorate expressed its faith in the Company's management and Director-General [Amos Ron], and supports the [management's] work and continued handling of the weighty matters at the core of the company's activity, and in the continued implementation of the reform of the ports," the statement read. Ron himself was not saddened by Tichon's departure. "It's about time. We had a serious dispute regarding the progress of reforms, which became a personal struggle in which he tried to have me fired in various ways," Ron said, calling the allegations of corruption "complete rubbish." "The company is run in an orderly fashion, in accordance with all of the rules and law and order," Ron said, adding that the reform was succeeding beyond expectations. Tichon, 69, said he would resume his retirement, and that he intends to write a book describing his decades-long life in Israeli politics. "It will be an interesting read," he promised.


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