Ramat Gan general view.
(photo credit: RAMAT GAN MUNICIPALITY)
Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger and five other suspects were arrested Monday morning in a case involving corruption, money laundering and election fraud, all uncovered during a year-long investigation of the city’s municipality.
Zinger was ordered to seven days of house arrest on Monday, and was banned from the Ramat Gan Municipality offices for 15 days.
Another suspect arrested on Monday was PR man Nimrod Nir, the son of Israeli celebrity Judy Nir Mozes Shalom and the adopted son of her husband, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom.
Police said the case uncovered attempts by mob boss Amir Mulner’s organization to “penetrate” the municipality and muscle in on businesses run by the city, but that these attempts were foiled by police.
Police specified that these attempts are not at the center of the allegations against the municipality officials, but couldn’t rule out that organized crime links won’t emerge as the case continues.
City officials created a system of favors and incentives to reward people from within and outside the municipality who had helped Zinger’s mayoral campaign ahead of the October 2013 municipal elections, police said.
In one of the instances, Nimrod Nir was allegedly rewarded with assurances that his company would be given advertising contracts for future events and interests in the city in exchange for advising Zinger’s campaign.
People were allegedly given jobs with the municipality and city-run offices to reward their service during the campaign, and others won tenders for business projects in the city in exchange for their campaign assistance, police said.
Altogether, police brought more than 20 municipality workers in for questioning on Monday, and six were arrested by early afternoon.
The investigation was carried out by detectives from Lahav 433 – The National Crime Unit and the Tax Authority, and involves suspicions of election fraud, bribery, fraud, money laundering, and breach of trust.
The city’s former veteran mayor, Zvi Bar, left political life in 2013 after he was indicted on bribery and money laundering charges.