Israel Railways board member quits director-general race

May 28, 2010 04:34

Aviva Nissim-Wolf resigns,accuses Gov't of improper conduct in the tender.

2 minute read.

Yisrael Katz

yisrael katz 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The saga of selecting a new director-general for Israel Railways hit a new snag as one of the three remaining members of the selection committee announced her surprise resignation on Wednesday.

Israel Railways board member Aviva Nissim-Wolf sent a letter of resignation to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, in which she accused the Government Companies Authority of improper conduct in the tender.

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Earlier this week, the tender was frozen after concerns were raised about abnormalities in the scoring of the three candidates to replace the outgoing director-general. On Monday, when the three final candidates went before the selection committee, former Cellcom CEO Oren Most was in the lead, but at the last minute, two of the committee’s three members gave him suspiciously low marks, effectively taking him out of the running. Media reports cited sources in the selection process as claiming the voting had been fixed.

Nissim-Wolf, a Transportation Ministry representative on the board of directors, was one of the two committee members who gave Most the low scores. The third committee member, a former judge who was the public’s representative, gave Most nearly full marks. Both Transportation Ministry representatives were called for a hearing following the voting.

Competing against Most in the tender for the post were Sassi Shilo, the CEO of Netivei Hayovel, and Itzik Ben-Tov, a retired brigadier-general. After the voting, Shilo was the candidate with the highest score.

In her letter of resignation, Nissim-Wolf cited “impossible working conditions in the company.” She stated that following the resignation of board chairman Ya’acov Efrati – after his arrest on suspicion of involvement in the Holyland affair in April – the board had been left with only three people to take part in the selection process, and the process itself operated under constant leaks to the media and unjustified accusations of improprieties in the members’ decision-making.

She concluded her letter by stating that she was tendering her resignation to preempt her being fired.

The case has already been brought to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss for an investigation. The comptroller’s spokesman said that the office had received complaints from the Transportation Ministry and other sources and was examining them to decide on further steps, but could not elaborate on the details as long as the investigation was ongoing.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadia said the tender was not the responsibility of the Transportation Ministry and that the train company had a temporary director-general at its helm and that as soon as a new candidate was chosen by the selection committee, the minister would authorize the appointment.

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