(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A large-scale police undercover corruption investigation into Israel Railways sanitation division, in coordination with the Israel Tax Authority, concluded on Tuesday morning with the arrest of over 25 managers and supervisors.
According to the police’s economic crime unit Lahav 443, the investigation – conducted with the full cooperation of Israel Railways CEO, Boaz Zafrir – determined that the sanitation employees colluded for months to commit bribery, money laundering, fraud, and tax offenses totaling “tens of millions” of shekels.
In a statement, police said the investigation was launched after suspicions were raised that a number of sanitary inspectors for the railway falsified inspection reports and vastly overcharged or bribed third-party contractors that the railway hired.
Additionally, a number of the suspects arrested are accused of “creating a systematic mechanism for inflated invoicing,” involving fictitious companies that allegedly provided cleaning services and manpower that was funneled into a fake account.
“This morning over 25 employees were questioned and arrested following dozens of raids into their homes and offices,” a police spokesman said, adding that all the suspects were arraigned at Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court later that afternoon.
In response to the arrests, an Israel Railways spokesman stressed that Zafrir, who ordered an internal audit and examination of relationships with railway contractors at the beginning of 2013, initiated the investigation.
“Israel Railways is making every effort to maintain integrity and good governance, and denounces all conduct that is not within the framework of the law,” a statement from the company said.
Israel Railways, which is state-owned and based in Tel Aviv, is responsible for all commuter, inter-city and freight rail transport and inspections to and from the country.