February 18, 2007 23:28
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Jacky Matza, head of the Tax Authority who is under investigation on corruption allegations, handed in his resignation on Sunday to Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson. "I decided to hand in my resignation which goes into effect immediately," wrote Matza, "out of a sense of public responsibility, as someone for whom the Tax Authority is very precious, and so as not to be an impediment to the appointment of a [new] head, which would have caused harm to its operations. I am doing so even before the investigation is over and before any conclusions regarding my conduct have been reached." The affair became public on January 2, when the police announced that they had detained 22 people, including Tax Authority employees, private businessmen and Shula Zaken, head of the prime minister's bureau. After conducting a secret investigation for the two previous months, police suspected that Matza and others had received bribes in return for charging less taxes than they should have to various businessmen, and for making appointments to the authority according to the dictates of powerful businessmen closely linked to Zaken. These businessmen included Yoram Karshi and Kobi Ben-Gur. After being questioned by police, Matza immediately announced he was taking a leave of absence. He was also placed under house arrest while the investigation was taking place. It was understood from early on that Hirschson was looking for a permanent replacement. Matza, 38, is an accountant and has a law degree. He began working in the Income Tax Department in 1993 and held a number of positions over the following four years, including deputy income tax commissioner for investigations and head of the professional department. He worked in the private sector from 1997 to 2000 and then returned to the Tax Authority. In January 2006, two months before the election that brought Zaken's boss, Ehud Olmert, to power, Matza was appointed head of the Tax Authority.

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