Tour operators in Israel formed a “cartel” to fix prices for Israeli youth delegations to Poland, the police said Monday, when investigation of the alleged price fixing went public.
Police and Anti-Trust Authority officers arrested nine suspects on Monday morning and seized bank accounts linked to the alleged scam.
Police said that tour operators who had recently been awarded government tenders to provide services for the youth delegations conspired to fix prices in order to prevent competition that could reduce the cost of the trips, police said Monday.
The suspects include the CEOs and owners of several tour operators – including some of the major travel agencies.
The suspects are accused of violating anti-trust laws as well as committing fraud and money laundering.
The investigation – which police say has been underway for a few months – involves at least six large Israeli tour operators who organize visits to Poland , during which Israeli school students visit death camps and other sites in the country to learn about the Holocaust.
Participation in a youth delegation to Poland can cost several thousand shekels, often making it difficult for students from economically disadvantaged families to attend the trip.
Late last year, the Education Ministry announced that they had managed to secure a reduction in the cost of the delegations, largely by shouldering some of the expenses.