Another example of burgeoning corruption in the public sector was revealed Monday when police announced that a gang including IDF non-commissioned officers, Defense Ministry employees and even an officer in the Israel Police were defrauding the public of tens of thousands of shekels in a vehicle resale scheme.
At the conclusion of a lengthy undercover probe, the investigative team - including members of the Security-Economic Department of the police's International and Serious Crimes Unit, investigators from the Defense Ministry's internal security apparatus, and investigators from the elite Central Investigative Unit of the Investigative Military Police - decided that they had gathered enough evidence to reveal the operation by knocking on the doors of the 12 lead suspects Monday morning, arresting some and detaining others for questioning.
Seven of those arrested are senior non-commissioned officers and civilian employees of the IDF, all of whom were arrested by the Military Police CIU and Defense Ministry investigators. The four civilians - some of whom are Defense Ministry employees - and one police officer, Insp. Golan Yefet, the son-in-law of another suspect, Yosef Muchtar, were all arrested or detained by ISCU detectives.
The probe began approximately six month ago when investigators received information about shady dealings at a vehicle lot at the Tzrifin IDF base near Beit Dagan. The lot serviced vehicles that had been removed from use in the IDF and the Defense Ministry because of mechanical problems.
Police said that the central suspect was the lot's manager, 60-year-old Tel Aviv resident Muchtar, who is suspected of selling the vehicles at absurdly low rates to interested parties and family members. The buyers would then allegedly resell the vehicles at substantial profit, and distribute percentages of their earnings to all of the alleged members of the ring.
Investigators say that they found a clear modus operandi through which workers at the lot would "find" serious mechanical problems with the vehicles in question to lower their resale value. They would then allegedly resell them at attractive prices despite the fact that their actual market value - without the imaginary problems - was much higher.
Although detectives are remaining silent as to the amount of time that this ring operated unhindered, it is likely that it operated for over a year, and the gross income over that period may have reached hundreds of thousands of shekels.
The suspects may face charges including receiving bribes, fraudulent receipt of an item under aggravated circumstances, theft of auto parts, theft by an employee, fraud and violation of the public trust.
Additional arrests are expected before the case file is passed on to the prosecutor's office.
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