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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Police on Monday arrested four additional suspects in the far-reaching Yisrael Beytenu corruption investigation, including former heads of major public organizations suspected of bribery, fraud, and money laundering.
The suspects were named as Yisrael Yehoshua, 51, of Jerusalem, Alexander Wiznitzer, 62, from Ness Ziona, Yeshiyahu “Shay” Beres, from Tel Aviv, and Shaul Mizrahi from Givat Ze’ev.
Yehoshua, a Jerusalem-based lobbyist and a former branch chairman of the Likud party, and Wiznitzer, the former Chairman of the NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd., were first named as suspects in the corruption scandal in December 2014. Yehoshua is suspected of playing a central role in a number of corruption scandals. Wiznitzer is suspected of taking and brokering bribes.
Mizrachi is the former head of Local Government Economic Services Ltd. and is suspected of obstruction of justice and tampering with an investigation.
The other suspects, including Beres, the former CEO of Netivei Israel (Israel National Roads Company) face charges ranging from fraud and bribery to money laundering.
Police are working on the theory that the suspects conspired to skim money from payments of state funds to local councils and other public bodies, and inflated budgets and conspired to award state contracts to associates. The investigation has become popular known as the “Yisrael Beytenu” case.
The allegations came to light as part of the wider investigation into the Yisrael Beytenu case, police said, and a breakthrough that came after they were able to secure testimony from an additional state witness.
Police added that there were a number of other suspects detained and questioned on Monday after they raided a number of houses and offices.
The case broke in December of last year and involved dozens of suspects being brought into custody, including former Yisrael Beytenu MK and deputy minister Faina Kirschenbaum, the party’s chief of staff, David Godovsky, and former Yisrael Beytenu MK and Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov.
The case involves more than 15 other smaller corruption investigations involving bribery and fraud and breach of trust. The conspiracy allegedly involved the suspects – including a large number of public officials and local council heads – conspiring to transfer state funds into inflated budgets for different state bodies and NGOs, a percentage of which was then taken by the accomplices in the conspiracy.
Then National Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino called the case one of the largest corruption investigations ever seen in the history of Israel.