(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
With the gag order removed Thursday morning, Stas Meseznikov was revealed as the former minister who was questioned by police on Tuesday over suspicion of bribery and breaking other corruption laws while in office from 2009 to 2013.
The police said that the investigation began with information revealed in the 2013 State Comptroller’s Report, which dealt with the manner in which former tourism minister Meseznikov dealt with tenders – worth millions of shekels – in his field of responsibility.
Police said they also detained several other people for questioning on Tuesday morning, and carried out searches in the homes and offices of those being investigated, and confiscated relevant computers and documents.
Meseznikov, a former Yisrael Beytenu MK, allegedly pushed lucrative contracts toward his associates, police said.
Also on Tuesday, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira distributed a press release that said, “following reports of the arrest of a former minister this morning, please find attached the report on the student festival in Eilat” that was published in October 2013.
In the report, Meseznikov was harshly criticized by the state comptroller regarding his conduct in funding a conference for students in 2010.
The comptroller’s report said that Meseznikov’s prior relationship with the conference organizers put all of his actions surrounding the ministry’s involvement with the conference in serious doubt and raised red flags.
The report said that the ministry, under Meseznikov, improperly used NIS 936,000, 33 percent of the funds the ministry used that year, for the conference, which it implied was an exorbitant amount of the ministry’s funds for a conference that had no apparent justification for such an expenditure.
The report noted that the public relations contract for the conference was granted to a firm without the standard competitive bidding process.