Acting State Attorney Dan Eldad ordered the opening of a criminal investigation into the Fifth Dimension affair on Thursday evening.
At this stage, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who headed the cybersecurity company, is not expected to be treated as a suspect, only as a fact witness.
Significantly, Eldad ordered the regular police to handle the investigation at this stage, though there had been discussion about the Police Investigations Department leading the probe.
This decision indicates that Eldad believes more of the wrongdoing centers around either Fifth Dimension employees or civilian middlemen than around the police who were involved in the affair, though both Eldad and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who passed the case on to Eldad, left the door open to PID getting involved.
Eldad said in a statement that after he examined documents and consulted with senior officials in the state prosecution, he decided to order the police to launch an investigation.
Mandelblit's passing the probe on to Eldad is another sign of the confidence he has that Gantz will not become a suspect even going forward.
The first report of possible wrongdoing surfaced in Haaretz last February, followed by a report by former state comptroller Joseph Shapira in March 2019.
In March 2019, Shapira’s report said that the police had acted improperly in granting Gantz’s Fifth Dimension company a deal to produce a technological solution without following the standard competitive bidding process.
More specifically, the report said that the company made three misleading statements in selling to the police, to get them to grant Fifth Dimension the deal.
Part of the delay in deciding whether to go after the Fifth Dimension on criminal charges has been that it had middlemen who were former top senior police officials, who might have gotten special treatment from police – and Gantz himself was allowed to be present during internal police discussions about who to grant the deal to.
In the end, Gantz’s company was paid only NIS 4 million of the NIS 50m. it might have gotten for the full deal, since it carried out only a pilot program before going bankrupt.
The company went bankrupt after its main investor, a Russian tycoon close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was sanctioned by the US government.
Shapira’s report had said that the police even were prepared to grant Fifth Dimension use of proprietary police technology at a discount to help it develop the solution that the police wanted it to produce.
But it is even possible that Gantz’s company could have been paid NIS 50m. by the police if his company had not gone bankrupt.
The bankruptcy also meant that Gantz’s company did not actually ever get access to the police proprietary technology, which they would have received at a later stage.
All of this raised questions about whether Fifth Dimension representatives made false statements to the police to try to win a multimillion shekel deal, and if they did, whether Gantz knew.
The latest developments indicate that the prosecution does not have evidence that Gantz knew about the alleged misrepresentations.