Closing bribery case, police recommend charging Hirsch in tax fraud case

Police, Tax Authority complete investigation into Defensive Shield case

August 8, 2019 17:33
2 minute read.
Gal Hirsch at The Jerusalem Post elections conference, April 3rd, 2019

Gal Hirsch at The Jerusalem Post elections conference, April 3rd, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Israel Police and the Tax Authority have concluded an extensive investigation into the case of the Defensive Shield group, owned by partners Oded Shachnai and Gal Hirsch, and the country of Georgia. Evidence was found that the group allegedly committed tax fraud and other financial crimes. The investigation file will now be forwarded to the State’s Attorney’s Office for further review.

At the same time, and after four years of investigation, the police announced that they were closing another case alleging that Hirsch had given bribes to the former Georgian defense minister, a case which torpedoed Hirsch's appointment as the police chief in 2015. The police said that they did not find evidence in the case.

The suspicions now deal with tenders that the group won in Georgia worth tens of millions of shekels between 2007 and 2009, and in connection to actions taken to promote business interests related to the Defense Shield group’s business.

The investigation, which police described as “thorough, complex and strenuous,” was conducted with the assistance of the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, among others.

A preliminary review was launched in October 2015 following the findings of a special investigation team appointed by former attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein. After that, it was decided to move from a preliminary review stage to a full criminal investigation.

Some of the results of the investigation are that millions of shekels were transferred from the Georgian Defense Ministry to Israeli and foreign bank accounts linked to members of the Defensive Shield group, and that the group allegedly deceived foreign financial institutions which refused to receive money from security transactions in Georgia. False reports were also allegedly made to these foreign financial institutions.

Gal Hirsch responded to the announcement that the investigation had been concluded, claiming these cases were only raised to thwart his appointment as police commissioner.

“In those days, you heard all kinds of things about me: that I was being investigated by the FBI, that there were world-wide investigations, that I was selling weapons to governments in Africa, that I was bribing overseas government officials… What not?” he posted on Facebook, noting that the first case, known as the Rishon Lezion case, was later closed and he was not found guilty.

He asked whether this new case would ultimately be closed, too.

“I firmly reject these suspicions,” he said. “I want you to know that my hands are clean!”

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