PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Legislation that would make fraud and breach of trust two separate crimes is expected to go to a Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote on Sunday.
MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union), who proposed the bill, said that the current situation, in which fraud and breach of trust is one category, allows for leniency in corruption cases.
“Since the law did not specifically define the meaning and limits of breach of trust, the courts tried to interpret it, but for years it has been clear that fraud and breach of trust must be separated and the second one must be defined,” he stated.
Breach of trust is defined in Rosenthal’s bill as when a public official acts under a significant conflict of interest, receives benefits or misuses internal government information such that it harms civil servants’ integrity, violates trust in public service, or harms the way public services are supposed to function. The punishment for such an act is three years in prison.
The bill also changes fraud by a public official from a misdemeanor to a felony, carrying a five-year prison sentence.
Fraud, according to the proposal, entails misrepresentation connected to fulfilling a public position or using someone else’s status as a public official, or giving a false report to another public worker, including hiding information that could influence his or her judgment while fulfilling a public position.
“The crime ‘fraud and breach of trust’ is a sort of carry-all for the State Attorney’s Office in its fight against corruption,” Rosenthal said.
“Because breach of trust is so vague and undefined, sometimes public officials are acquitted after a long trial and the fight against corruption absorbs unnecessary defeats.”