Hirchson questioned over transactions

Hirchson unlikely to attend March of the Living in wake of embezzlement scandal.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
April 11, 2007 23:40
1 minute read.
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As strikes continued to sweep across sectors of society and the dollar edged toward a record low against the shekel, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson spent six hours of his working day Thursday being questioned under warning. Hirchson was questioned by investigators from the National Financial Crimes Unit at the unit's Bat Yam offices from the early morning until mid-afternoon. This was his fourth session of questioning in the past six weeks - which have totaled well over 20 hours. Unlike previous sessions, Thursday's questioning did not address police suspicions of embezzlement from the Nili Organization, an educational wing of the National Labor Federation which was led by Hirchson for years. Police said that they had already exhausted the lines of questioning concerning Nili during previous sessions. Instead, Thursday's questioning focused on financial transactions in bank accounts - both Hirchson's and those of his friends. Investigators from the Israel Tax Authority joined detectives in questioning the finance minister concerning suspicions of tax evasion and money laundering. Although it seemed in recent days that the investigation was distancing its focus from allegations that Hirchson may have embezzled money from the March of the Living Organization, investigators once again questioned the minister on the topic. March of the Living was not, however, the only organization mentioned, and thus far, there are no police suspicions that other members of the organization were involved in alleged crimes. An earlier report that US authorities were going to probe March of the Living's finances was proven unfounded. Police said following the latest round of questioning that due to the complexity of the investigative information, Hirchson would have to be questioned at least one more time before attempting to compose an indictment against the finance minister. Hirchson argues that the money deposited in his account was from his son Ofer and from family members in Switzerland, who were trying to assist him during his wife's illness. Channel 10 reported later Thursday evening that Hirchson's attorney, Eldad Yaniv, was pressing the minister to resign his post in order to retain some of his public image.

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