Hirchson may turn state witness
Say Finance Minister gave $200,000 to unnamed "prominent political figure."
By JPOST.COM STAFF, REBECCA ANNA STOIL
March 21, 2007 23:31
1 minute read.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson, under investigation for possible fraud, is suspected of having given a prominent political personality $200,000 six years ago, Army Radio reported Thursday morning.
The identity of the politician given the money by Hirchson was not disclosed, and police officials hinted that Hirchson might become a state witness in a prosecution against the receiver of the funds.
A source in the investigation said the Finance Minister was given 10 checks of $20,000 in return but never cashed them.
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Police also investigated a plot of land near Binyamina that was purchased by a relative of Hirchson with two partners. The land jumped in value considerably after the buyers made changes to the property. Sources in the investigation said Hirchson was surprised by the breadth and depth of the information dug up by the police.
Elsewhere, Kadima MKs called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to fire Hirchson immediately.
On Wednesday Hirchson, received good news when Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz said the evidence in police hands was not sufficient to demand that Hirchson leave his post.
Mazuz issued the ruling after he and State Attorney Eran Shendar were briefed by police on the investigation into the minister's conduct when he headed the National Labor Federation in Eretz Israel.
Initially, police believed that Ovadia Cohen, the former head of Nili, an organization that operated educational institutions and operated under the umbrella of the union, embezzled approximately NIS 5.5 million from the organization, and that Hirchson knew about the fraud but failed to report it.
But police now believe the minister may have received some of the embezzled money and used it to pay his son Ofer's gambling debts.
A former Hirchson subordinate told Channel 10 news on Wednesday night that he had seen the minister, as head of the labor organization, accepting envelopes "full of cash" from Cohen.
Police are also looking into an incident in which Hirchson was allegedly caught by Polish police with a suitcase full of money intended for use by the March of the Living, a program he helped found.
The minister's secretary was questioned by investigators on Wednesday, and later was reportedly barred by police from entering her office.