(photo credit: Bloomberg)
The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Monday extended by four days the remand of a top Health Ministry psychiatrist who allegedly wrote fraudulent medical diagnoses as part of a scam that cost the National Insurance Institute millions.
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A large portion of those benefiting from the scam were yeshiva students who the psychiatrist “certified” as mentally disabled, making them eligible to receive insurance benefits.
Investigators suspect that over the past two years the psychiatrist worked with a “fixer” in the haredi community in Jerusalem, who would offer yeshiva boys a way to get extra insurance supplements, in exchange for giving him a percentage of the monthly payments.
The middleman, who has also been arrested, would allegedly pay the psychiatrist for the mental disability diagnosis, which would in most cases earn the yeshiva boys thousands of shekels in supplements per month.
The court placed a partial gag order on the case, banning publication of the suspect’s name and his specific job at the ministry. Nonetheless, police have stated that the suspect was arrested on October 17 immediately upon returning from Spain, after an undercover investigation that lasted months.
The suspect has reportedly denied the charges against him, but police have stated that they have strong evidence linking him to charges of fraud, bribery, aggravated forgery and conspiracy.
Police have estimated that the scam cost the NII well over NIS 2 million and that they are currently looking for additional suspects involved in the fleecing of the institute’s coffers.