Police question senior public figure linked to Yisrael Beytenu corruption probe

According to reports, the individual in question is "someone close to" Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, though the exact identity of the figure remains under a police-ordered media gag order.

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December 28, 2014 15:02
2 minute read.
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Lahav 433 headquarters. (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

 
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Investigators questioned a "senior public figure" who has been linked to the expanding corruption probe against top members of the Yisrael Beytenu party.

According to reports, the individual in question is "someone close to" Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, though the exact identity of the figure remains under a police-ordered media gag order.

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Police have reportedly enlisted the help of three state's witnesses in the probe, which has seen the arrest of more than 30 public officials. The probe is looking at a number of cases in which officials received bribes and kickbacks from tax money, budgeted under false pretenses to a series of NGOs and local authorities.

The case also involves allegations of widespread money laundering, falsification of documents and breach of trust.

Liberman charged on Sunday that the high-profile investigation of numerous Yisrael Beytenu functionaries is a “planned and well timed” operation orchestrated to take place right in the middle of the election campaign.

Liberman, the head of Yisrael Beytenu, made his comment to reporters before the weekly cabinet meeting. He said the timing of the arrests and questioning of leading party functionaries precisely now raised many questions. He said that there would not coincidentally be additional arrests, accompanied by more leaks, until the very end of the campaign.

Citing a recent requests from the Jerusalem prosecutor's office to the Jerusalem Labor Court to put off until after the elections a lawsuit involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former housekeeper Manny Naftali, Liberman wondered why the same principle – the need to be very sensitive in dealing with legal proceedings during an election campaign – did not apply to his party as well.



“On the contrary, when it comes to Yisrael Beitenu there is a pressure to speed up and widen the investigation [during the campaign],” he said,. “I know and respect State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, and I hope to hear a satisfactory explanation.”

Mentioning by name two people under investigation, Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum's chief of staff David Godovsky, and Tamar Regional Council head Dov Litvinoff, Liberman asked what was the urgency to arrest and investigate them now.

“Has David Godovsky suddenly become a ticking time-bomb, was Dov Litvinoff about to sell Israel's airplane secrets to the Iranians?” he asked.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel issued a statement in response to Liberman's comments saying it was “shameful” that instead of sharply condemning the grave allegations against leading functionaries in his party, Liberman lashed out against the law enforcement apparatus.

“There is no good time for corruption or the the war against it which has to be continuous and determined,” the statement said. “It is good that law enforcement officials did not let early elections prevent the enforcement of the law.”

Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.



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