(photo credit: AP)
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharanovitch is moving to create a new body to lead the economic war on organized crime, after despairing that the Israel Tax Authority (ITA) will cooperate, a source from the Public Security Ministry told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
"We hoped that we could find a solution involving the tax authority, but things are stuck and cooperation is not forthcoming," the source said. "The economic war is the central component in the struggle against organized crime, and we need a solution."
The ITA has not been fully cooperating with police efforts to seize the assets of criminal organizations and break up their businesses, because of a dispute over hazard payments.
The ITA has been demanding that its employees receive hazard bonuses for making evidence available to police, claiming that pursuing mobsters puts employees at added risk of retribution.
In November, the ITA confirmed to the Post that its cooperation with law enforcement against the mob was only "partial."
"If you make arrests of mob leaders, but leave the organizations in control of the assets, and if you leave them with the money they need to run operations, the problem has not really been solved," the Public Security Ministry source said.
"There is no schedule yet for when the new body will go into operation, but I can say that Aharanovitch has had a positive meeting with the Finance Ministry over the issue. The Finance Ministry views the idea favorably.
"The new unit will be designed to solely deal with crime organizations, and will work together with police anti-organized crime units, such as Lahav 433," the source said.
Public Security Ministry spokesman Tal Harel confirmed to the Post that Aharanovitch "is examining this issue."
In a detailed annual report released last week, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said the Israel Police is largely failing to wage an effective economic war against organized crime.