Port of Ashdod.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Ashdod Port union chief Alon Hassan and five others were indicted on Sunday on bribe, fraud and money- laundering charges, finally bringing to court a case that erupted some two years ago.
According to the indictment, some NIS 22 million in bribes related to Hassan’s actions and those of former Ashdod Ports CEO and oversight authority Shuki Sagis, as well as David Hassan, Yaniv Baltar and Uri Baltar in conjunction with the company Dana Port Group.
Initially, there had been heavy speculation Alon Hassan would get a plea-bargain deal to testify against now-indicted attorney Ronel Fisher and his associates in a related massive corruption case, which Hassan helped break open by recording Fisher offering to use his special connections with law enforcement to solve Hassan’s legal problems in exchange for cash.
Fisher was later indicted and arraigned on the basis of other plea bargains and allies turned state witnesses. He was due to begin the witness stage of his trial on Sunday, but it was postponed for the second time, reportedly due to issues with Fisher finding legal representation.
Given the other plea bargains related to Fisher, the prosecution did not need a deal with Hassan, and he was left out to dry.
The investigation had kicked off with findings of fishy accounting in an agreement between the Dana Port Group – a logistics company whose top officials included David Hassan and the F.C. Ashdod soccer team.
From 2010-2013, Hassan and Sagis convinced other overseers and those using the ports that they had to employ a specific cleaning company, though it was not ideal from a business perspective. The company was controlled by Hassan who used it to launder funds.
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The other two scams involved Dana Port Group in which Hassan, Sagis and the others insisted that Dana provide inspection services and services relating to drilling for Shemen Oil, pushing out prior service providers and without a competitive bidding process. The defendants used Dana to funnel millions more shekels to themselves.
Yaniv Baltar has cut a deal with the state under which he will serve 18 months in prison, forfeit NIS 2.9m. of seized assets and pay a NIS 600,000 fine; Uri Baltar will serve six months community service and pay a NIS 500,000 fine in his arrangement; and Dan Port Group’s deal calls for NIS 600,000 being seized and a NIS 100,000 fine.
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