A-G to indict Minister Haim Katz soon over corruption case – reports

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit decided to drop the charges of fraud against Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz.

August 8, 2019 03:33
2 minute read.
MK Haim Katz (Likud)

MK Haim Katz (Likud) 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit will announce his decision to indict Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz in the near future, according to multiple reports late Wednesday.

Just as reports came out, the Justice Ministry issued a half-denial saying that no decision was made yet, and that the public would be informed when one was.

In the past, when such potential indictments have been leaked, sometimes Mandelblit has not issued an actual decision for weeks or longer, with the leak originating from a party hoping to press for a decision.

However, with the September 17 election less than seven weeks away, time is running out for a preelection decision.

If indicted, Katz will likely have to resign based on Supreme Court precedent, but there could be a lag time of a couple of months since the Knesset committee for removing his immunity is not currently in session.

In October 2018, Mandelblit held a pre-indictment hearing with Katz as a last chance for the minister to convince him to back off from indicting him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Reports on Wednesday indicated that the bribery charge will be dropped due to arguments made by Katz’s lawyers during the pre-indictment hearing.

Pre-indictment hearings are generally only granted to ministers – and their lawyers sometimes use this to convince the prosecution to reduce or drop the charges.

In May 2018, Mandelblit informed Katz that absent major changes, he planned to file an indictment.

In February 2018, police had made similar recommendations for corruption allegations relating to Katz’s work at Israel Aerospace Industries.

A police statement had said that Katz, along with other senior officials, were taking advantage of their positions, using thousands of shekels worth of IAI resources and labor for their personal use, and in return for assistance, the minister provided patronage jobs for “his people” in and out of the IAI.

In response to police recommendations, Katz has said: “I did not expect otherwise from the police because they would never admit that the massive amount of resources that they put into this investigation was for nothing.

“Every person with common sense knows what this investigation is about and understands that it entails nothing, and the allegations [against me] are baseless,” he said. “I am certain that the state’s prosecution people have integrity and honesty, and they will decide not to indict me in this case.”

Udi Shaham contributed to this story.

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