TEL AVIV’S congested Ayalon Highway in 2014. .
(photo credit: MOSHE MILNER / GPO)
The State Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday announced pre-indictment hearings levied against 30 employees of the National Roads Company of Israel, including two former directors and a former Likud MK.
They are being investigated on multiple charges, including bribery, money laundering and tax violations.
The National Roads Company (also known as Netivei Israel and the National Roads Authority), is a government-owned corporation in charge of planning, construction and maintenance of the majority of the country’s roadways bridges and interchanges.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, evidence of wide-scale corruption spanning 10 years has been gathered against Alex Vizhnitzer and Shai Baras, who both served as director generals, former Likud MK Michael Gorlovsky, and multiple managers, planners, contractors and service providers.
While few details of the investigation have been made public, Vizhnitzer is accused of extortion, taking multiple bribes, money laundering and tax violations; Baras is being accused of breach of trust and fraud; and Gorlovsky is suspected of bribery.
Simchony and Baras both denied the charges against them on Wednesday.
The probe follows the Tuesday detainment by Lahav 443 of five senior staff members and suppliers of another unidentified government-owned company for allegedly taking bribes to expedite tenders, grant appointments, and apportion other favorable treatment.
While most of the details of the probe are being withheld, and no charges have been filed, the National Financial Investigations Unit said the unidentified suspects were being questioned after their computers and related files were seized during a protracted investigation.
Suspects being questioned include the company’s CEO, marketing director and at least three suppliers.
In a brief statement, police said it is cracking down on all financial crimes in government companies and will “bring offenders to justice.”
“The police will continue to investigate and expose illicit processes, such as promoting tenders and appointments for [suppliers] in exchange for bribes, and will continue to strike at the heart of corruption wherever it appears in governmental companies,” the statement said.