Police on Wednesday tried to defuse press reports circulating around the arrest of 15 people implicated in corruption at Ashdod Port, including its union chief, Alon Hassan.
According to several news outlets, investigators suspect fishy accounting in an agreement between the Dana Port Group – a logistics company whose top officials, including a cousin of Hassan, were among the 15 arrested – and the F.C. Ashdod soccer team, whose training program Dana funded to the tune of hundreds of thousands of shekels for two years.
The funding was allegedly arranged as part of a deal with Dana by Jacky Ben-Zaken, who is among the owners of the soccer team. According to the reports, police suspect the sums were significantly greater than would be expected for the training assistance given.
In a message sent to the press on Wednesday, police said they had seen over the course of the day “reports that purport to detail aspects of the investigation, which were put out by people trying to advance their interests in one way or another and are out of touch with reality.”
They added that any details of the investigation that are not sent out as official statements by police will not be confirmed or denied and are to published at the outlet’s risk.
Ben-Zaken controls Shemen Oil and Gas Exploration Ltd., a company that operated out of Ashdod and is suspected of shady dealings through Dana.
Globes reported that Dana bought rights to port facilities and sold them to Shemen at 10 times its cost, which still was less than the going rate.
Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi served as Shemen’s chairman from late 2011 to late 2013.
Itay Ben-Hurin, Ashkenazi’s media adviser said in response to the reports that his client “answered the police request to give his testimony regarding Shemen’s operations at the Ashdod Port. Ashkenazi told them everything he knew and the investigation is not related to him directly. Ashkenazi finished his role at Shemen last year and I can give no further details on request of the police.”
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira blasted corruption at the ports, praising the police for their investigation and noting the Comptroller’s Office’s many contributions to oversight at the ports.
Shapira spoke at a conference in Tel Aviv on oversight of state authorities, which was due to feature Hassan speaking alongside the former chief of the police’s Investigations and Intelligence Department, retired Asst.-Ch. Yoav Segalovich.
The conference’s spokesman quipped that in light of recent developments, Hassan was not expected to attend.
Niv Elis contributed to this report.