(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Police detained a former minister on Tuesday, revealing that he had been the subject of an undercover investigation over the past year on suspicion of bribery and breaking other corruption laws while in office from 2009-2013.
The police said they had also detained several other subjects for questioning on Tuesday morning and had carried out searches in the homes and offices of those being investigated, including confiscating relevant computers and documents.
Police did not reveal the minister’s name, and it was unclear whether they would formally arrest the minister or release him after questioning.
The investigation began with information revealed in the 2013 State Comptroller’s Report, which dealt with the manner in which the former minister had dealt with tenders in his field of responsibility worth millions of shekels, police said.
According to police, the minister allegedly pushed lucrative contracts toward his associates.
Later Tuesday, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira distributed a press release to the media on the subject.
“Following reports of the arrest of a former minister this morning,” it read, “please find attached the report on the student festival in Eilat,” which was published on October 15, 2013.
In that report, the state comptroller harshly criticized then-tourism minister Stas Meseznikov for 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 the former tourism minister, had improperly used NIS 936,000 – 33 percent of the funds the ministry had used that year – for the conference.
It implied that there was no apparent justification for such an exorbitant expenditure on this event.
The report also noted that public relations for the conference had been granted to a firm without the standard competitive bidding process.