Yuval Steinitz 88 248.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Finance Ministry is setting up a special task force to fight organized crime by destroying its financial structure, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said late Monday night.
"The fight against organized crime is an essential part of a just society," he said in a press statement. "The Finance Ministry, through the Israel Tax Authority, will make a significant contribution to the fight against organized crime by cracking down on money laundering and tax evasion to demolish the economic means feeding organized-crime organizations."
The special unit will be under the auspices of the Israel Tax Authority and will work in cooperation with the police and other enforcement agencies to combat money laundering.
Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen met with representatives of the ITA in recent days to deliberate the plan. They decided to recruit about 30 staff members to train as investigators, giving preference to accountants, lawyers and veterans of IDF special units. Job notices for the positions will appear in the coming weeks.
"This is a very important milestone for an initiative that has been postponed again and again," Cohen said in the Treasury statement. "We will act fast to establish and prepare the unit to take action and get results."
In the past, ITA officials were said to be demanding "risk bonuses" in exchange for their collaboration with law-enforcement agencies in the fight against organized crime.
Steinitz has been pushing for the implementation of a program aimed at eradicating organized crime and violence from the streets as a way to revive and strengthen the economy. He says this is how former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani saved his city when he was in office from 1994 to 2002.
Improved security and safety encourage tourism and shopping as people leave the house more and boost private consumption, Steinitz says. A strong feeling of personal safety encourages citizens to open new businesses and foreigners to invest in the country, he says.