Hirchson yet to be questioned in fraud case

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
March 2, 2007 00:53

Police said Thursday they had yet to question Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson for allegedly turning a blind eye to embezzlement committed during his tenure as head of the National Labor Federation in Eretz-Israel. Five of Hirchson's former employees were arrested in early January, but police have not reported any tangible progress. The investigation is being handled by the National Financial Crimes Unit. Last week, there was speculation that Hirchson would be questioned this week, there is still no word as to when this will happen. The allegations regarding him surfaced in late December. The Financial Crimes Unit's close-lipped chief, Lt.-Cmdr. Yoav Segelovich, has reportedly been tapped to question the head of one of the country's most powerful ministries. All five of the people arrested were former employees of Nili, an organization that operated educational institutions under the union's umbrella. Police believe that Ovadia Cohen, Nili's former head, embezzled approximately NIS 5.5 million from the organization in 2003. Allegedly, Cohen informed Hirchson of his crimes, and Hirchson fired him, but did not report the crime. Cohen supposedly took the money to cover black-market loans. It was only in 2005 that accountants discovered the money was missing and reported the matter to the police.


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