Hirchson to be charged with stealing up to NIS 2.5m.

The state intends to charge former finance minister and current Kadima MK Avraham Hirchson with stealing up to NIS 2.5 million from the National Workers Federation, according to an indictment against him and three of his colleagues that was published on Sunday. Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz sent copies of the indictment to Hirchson, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and Knesset House Committee chairman David Tal, and released it to the public. Hirchson has 30 days to decide whether to ask the Knesset to grant him immunity from prosecution. If he does not, the indictment will automatically be filed in the Tel Aviv District Court on the 31st day. Hirchson's media adviser released a statement saying that the former finance minister did not intend to ask for immunity. The others included in the indictment are Yitzhak Ruso, Amatzia Boner and Zion Cohen. All together, the four are charged with stealing almost NIS 13m. The state prepared a draft indictment against Hirchson and 10 other suspects that was leaked to the press and published in The Jerusalem Post on October 17. The draft indictment was given to Hirchson's lawyer, Ya'acov Weinroth, so that he could prepare for a hearing before Mazuz. However, Weinroth eventually waived the hearing. The first part of the indictment focuses on the period between 2000 and 2003, when Hirchson was chairman of the National Workers Federation as well as a Likud MK. During that time, Ovadia Cohen, head of the union's finance department, and chief accountant Gideon Ben-Tzur signed checks worth millions of shekels and transferred up to NIS 2.5m. of the funds to Hirchson. Some of the money was delivered in cash by a messenger, and the rest was deposited in Hirchson's bank account. Hirchson received monthly payments of NIS 25,000 for a total of NIS 1m.-1.2m., as well as holiday "grants" amounting to NIS 160,000, travel money of between NIS 500,000 and NIS 750,000 for some 50 trips he made between 2000 and 2004, NIS 72,000 to cover the cost of medicines and NIS 600,000 in funding for the Likud primaries. The charges for these acts include theft by a director, fraud and breach of faith, money laundering, and false entry in the documents of a corporate body. According to the second part of the indictment, he received NIS 125,000 from the National Workers Federation for meals in the Knesset that had nothing to do with his work for the union and for private meals he ate on the weekends, which had nothing to do with any kind of work. For this, the draft indictment includes a charge of obtaining something by deceit in aggravated circumstances.