Scales of Justice symbol.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Former Yisrael Beytenu chief of staff David Godovsky appeared before the Tel Aviv District Court on Monday to formally deny corruption charges filed against him as part of the party’s broader corruption affair.
Godovsky portrayed his actions as explainable, citing an allegation of recommending a wealthy supporter for a cushy job and advancing ideological causes that were not conditioned on bribery as no criminal offense.
More specifically, his lawyer went through a range of allegations about actions Godovsky undertook and connections he had to organizations and persons at the center of the scheme. His lawyer admitted many of the connections but tried to characterize his actions in a narrative that could stand as legal.
However, the prosecution has a state witness who has pointed the finger at Godovsky.
On January 17, the prosecution got its first conviction in the Yisrael Beytenu Affair involving former deputy interior minister Faina Kirschenbaum, Godovsky and other public officials.
Also known as Case 242, the conviction went against Israeli Promoters Association CEO Irena Waldberg as part of a plea bargain.
Waldberg has admitted to bribing Godovsky and another aide of Kirschenbaum by paying NIS 15,084 for their flights to Ukraine and Serbia in August 2014.
As part of her plea bargain, Waldberg said Kirschenbaum was aware of the arrangement, had told Godovsky and the other aide to ask Waldberg for the funding, and she had complied to ingratiate herself with Kirschenbaum, who was assisting her with a range of public- and private-sector business issues on an ongoing basis.
Waldberg is only one piece of the evidence in the case.
Case 242 involves about a dozen other former ministry CEOs and former heads of quasi-governmental bodies and regional councils who have been under the gun since the alleged massive fraud scheme became known in December 2014.
According to police, the 2009-2014 conspiracy involved a series of plots by the suspects, including a large number of public officials and local council heads, to approve state funding and inflated budgets for various state bodies and NGOs. A percentage of that allegedly was then kicked back to the accomplices, including Kirschenbaum and Godovsky.
Kirschenbaum is said to have worked on the scheme along with the Samaria Development Company, the Ayalim Association, the Binyamin Regional Council, the Ezra Association and the National Anti-Drug and Alcohol Abuse Authority.
Besides skimming funds off the budgets that Kirschenbaum granted to the various public bodies, she, her family members and members of Yisrael Beytenu are also said to have received free hotel rooms, expensive electronics, paid jobs and a range of other illegal quid pro quo benefits.
In many cases, there were allegations that the bodies who received the funds agreed to give jobs to people close to the Yisrael Beytenu officials and others at the top of the pyramid.