(photo credit: REUTERS)
Northern Command Chief of Staff Brig.-Gen. Asher Ben Lulu has ordered the suspension of a lieutenant-colonel for 14 days as a probe into allegations of bribery by a private contractor and army personnel widens.
According to the military, the officer was suspended from duty due to suspicions he was involved in irregularities when receiving services from a civilian supplier four years ago.
The investigation into alleged improprieties in the purchasing of services by the army from a civilian contractor in 2012 and 2013 was launched in 2015. And on Monday the Israel Police detained 12 suspects, including two IDF officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel and major, on suspicion of bribery and fraud.
The arrests were made after an undercover investigation, which took more than a year, conducted by the Israel Police’s Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit. According to a police statement, the 10 civilian suspects were employees of a company responsible for doing maintenance work on army bases.
A gag order has been imposed on more details of the case, including the name of the company and the names of the suspects.
But according to a report by Channel 2, a relative of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is one of the businessmen who bribed senior IDF officers. The report found that Eisenkot’s relative owns the company suspected of embezzling significant sums of public funds for the work that was never carried out. Sources close to Eisenkot told Channel 2 that the Chief of Staff and his relative have no business ties and the last time they saw each other was eight months ago at a wedding.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit evaded questions on the reports when asked by The Jerusalem Post
On Thursday another IDF officer and an NCO were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the affair and are to be remanded before the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's court with the other suspects.
It is suspected that the officers, who were responsible for supervising tenders and receiving services at various army bases, siphoned off significant sums of money from the army to the civil servant workers who were to provide infrastructure services to IDF bases.
The International Criminal Investigation Unit of Lahav 433 searched the suspects’ offices and seized their computers and documents for information linking them to the alleged offenses.
Police investigators claim that one of the officers received benefits from several civil companies for his part in fraud, which included inflated invoicing, invoicing for work that was never done, inflated invoices and inflated projects far beyond what was required. It is believed that the sums involved in these frauds are estimated at several million shekels.
Following the arrests by the police, Israel’s Ministry of Defense on Thursday announced that it has since suspended the company from working as a supplier to the defense establishment.
The committee in charge of determining whether or not suppliers will be suspended due to criminal allegations, headed by Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Defense Roni Moreno, decided to freeze any new contract with the company and suspend it from any new tenders.
The Committee for the Suspension of Suppliers on Criminal Background, which discusses the status of each supplier who is suspected or indicted for criminal actions as well as shareholders, employees and employers who might be linked to suspected criminal actions in general or against the Ministry in particular, also froze all funds that the company was due to receive from the Ministry of Defense.