Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Monday ordered police to open an investigation into some of the State Comptroller's findings regarding political appointments made in the Ministry of Agriculture under Yisrael Katz and some of the bodies subordinate to it.
According to a laconic Ministry of Justice statement, the investigation "will focus in the first stage on an examination of a number of incidents discussed in the report which raise suspicions of criminal acts." A ministry spokesman explained that the statement deliberately did not single out personalities, but said the investigation would also determine who was responsible for illegal acts, if, indeed, such acts were committed.
In the second part of the annual State Comptroller's Report released last week, outgoing comptroller Eliezer Goldberg wrote that "during the period of Agricultural Minister Yisrael Katz, political and other improper appointments were carried out. We found that the minister's adviser improperly intervened in the hiring of workers, most of whom were connected to the minister's party." Goldberg compared the intervention of the minister's adviser to the situation in the Ministry of Environment under Tzahi Hanegbi, which led to a police investigation of Hanegbi's role in making political appointments. In a press conference last week, Goldberg made it clear that he believed Katz was directly responsible for the irregularities in the appointments made in his ministry and its subordinate bodies.
In the report, the state comptroller found, for example, that through the intervention of Katz's personal adviser, Michael Eilon, the ministry hired 24 seasonal supervisors for the Agricultural Inspection Authority. The positions did not require a public tender. Eilon submitted a list of recommended candidates to the head of the authority including 11 members of the Likud Central Committee, one Likud activist and four sons of Likud Central Committee members.
The state comptroller also found that the "seasonal" workers were still employed at the beginning of 2005, almost two years after being hired.
This was just one of a long list of incidents included in the 37-page chapter of the State Comptroller's Report on the Ministry of Agriculture. The Justice Ministry spokesman declined to say which of the incidents in the report aroused suspicions of criminal activity and would therefore be investigated.