(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Irregularities in the voting of the committee designated to choose the next Israel Railways CEO have brought the tender to a freeze and raised concerns of foul play.
On Monday, the three final candidates went before the selection committee with former Cellcom CEO Oren Most in the lead, but at the last minute two of the committee’s three members gave him suspiciously low ratings, effectively taking him out of the running.
The two committee members who gave Most the low scores are both representatives of the Transportation Ministry. The third committee member, a former judge who is the public’s representative, gave Most nearly full marks. People who attended the meeting described the voting as bizarre and inexplicable.
Following the vote, the selection process was frozen at the request of the Ministry of Finance’s Government Companies Authority and the minutes of the meeting were forwarded to the Attorney-General’s Office for investigation.
Competing with Most for the post were Sassi Shilo, the CEO of the Netivei Hayovel construction company, and Itzik Ben-Tov, a retired brigadier-general and a former IDF chief logistics officer. After the voting, Shilo had the highest score.
There are three options for continuing the process: bypass the search committee and have the Israel Railways board choose from the three candidates; have the committee vote again; or close down the search committee and issue a new tender for the post.
The decision has been put off to an unknown date.
The controversy comes after the self-suspension of Israel Railways board of directors and selection committee chairman Yaakov Efrati, following his arrest for suspicion of involvement in the Holyland real estate affair last month.
The tender also follows a scathing State Comptroller’s Report, in which
Israel Railways was said to be responsible for the delays in the
construction of the fast train line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and
for providing poor service in general.
Transportation Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadiah said the tender was not
the responsibility of the ministry and referred reporters’ questions to
the Government Companies Authority. He said Israel Railways had a
temporary CEO and that as soon as a new candidate was chosen, the
minister would authorize the appointment.
The Finance Ministry spokeswoman said the Government Companies Authority
was reviewing the minutes of the selection committee meeting to check
the allegations of voting irregularities.