(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
There is evidence that former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer committed fraud, bribery, breach of trust, and laundered money, police said on Tuesday.
There is also evidence that a number of other suspects in the case, including Jacky Ben-Zaken, businessman Avraham Nanikashvilli and Ben-Eliezer’s former bureau chief Ayelet Azoulay, committed a series of crimes including bribery, Israel Police Headquarters said in a statement announcing detectives had completed their investigation of Ben-Eliezer.
Police will pass the findings of the investigation to Tel Aviv district prosecutors who will decide whether to indict Ben- Eliezer.
The case deals with allegations that beginning in 2006, when Ben-Eliezer was the national infrastructure minister, he accepted large bribes from a series of associates in order to help advance their business interests.
Police believe that Ben-Eliezer laundered millions of shekels by buying real estate, funneling it to bank accounts belonging to relatives, and through the use of currency exchange businesses.
The money included NIS 2 million found in safe deposit box belonging to Ben-Eliezer at a Jerusalem bank.
He is suspected of buying a multimillion-shekel house in Jaffa with illegally acquired funds, and of receiving hundreds of thousands of shekels from a real-estate developer to lobby on his behalf with Egyptian officials he was close to, in order to help advance a project the man was planning in Egypt.
In addition, he stands accused of receiving around $400,000 from oil magnate Nanikashvili for helping him during a tax probe.
The 78-year-old Ben-Eliezer tendered his letter of resignation from the Knesset last month, citing health issues, ending decades as a public servant. The case against him broke just before the presidential elections in June. Before the case broke, he was expected to be a front-runner for head of state, but the probe all but killed his bid for the presidency.