(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
A corruption investigation into Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat has found enough evidence to support allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against the mayor and his assistant, Gil Adler, the police said Thursday.
The mayor, 44, and his assistant, 38, are suspected of using their public positions to help advance the business interests of a private contractor in exchange for discounts on the construction of their private homes. In a separate allegation, the mayor is suspected of bribing and promising bribes for votes in his 2013 election campaign.
“Upon completion of the investigation, the investigating unit believes that an evidentiary basis has been formed against the mayor and his assistant and the investigation file will be transferred to the State Prosecutor’s Office for review and decision,” the Police Intelligence and Investigations Department said in a statement on Thursday.
Dozens of people were questioned in the investigation, some of them under caution, police said.
The mayor, on Thursday, denied the allegations.
“I am certain that after reviewing the investigation material the prosecutors will not find fault in my actions,” he said in a statement, claiming that police “were left with no choice” but to forward the case to prosecutors due to media pressure.
“I am calm, quiet and will wait patiently for the conclusion of the process that will end without filing an indictment because there is no justification for doing so,” he said.
In February, police arrested Shohat, Adler and two others and searched Safed City Hall in the investigation termed Case 1431 by police. According to police, the arrests resulted from an extensive undercover investigation conducted by the Lahav 433 National Fraud Unit and the Israel Tax Authority with assistance from the northern District Attorney’s Office.
Shohat, who has been mayor of Safed since 2008, is a member of the Yisrael Beytenu Party and won a Knesset seat in 2015 but declined to take it, opting to remain mayor of Safed.