(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Anti-corruption watchdog group Ometz submitted a petition to the High Court on
Monday requesting the court order Israel’s law enforcement agencies to explain
why they have yet to investigate chief officials at Siemens and the Israel
Electric Corporation over the alleged payment of $20 million in bribes to the
company’s board members and others captains of industry.
asks the court to order Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Attorney-General Yehuda
Weinstein, State Attorney Moshe Lador, Police Insp.- Gen. Yohanan Danino and
others in the police and the Israel Securities Authority, to justify their
failure to prosecute people involved in the large scale bribery affair, in which
Siemens is suspected of having paid some $20m. in bribes to people at the Israel
Electric Corporation between the years 2002-2005 to promote its business with
According to the indictment filed in Israel, about 1m. euros
of that sum went to former district court judge Dan Cohen.
beginning of the millennium, Cohen was a director at Israel Electric
According to the indictment, he had received the bribe to
encourage him to influence a decision to buy turbines from Siemens.
left the country to Peru and the state has been battling ever since to have him
extradited and brought before the Israeli courts. Ometz however believes that
justice demands the investigation go beyond Cohen and account for the remainder
of the money that Siemens allegedly paid.
“The entire focus of the affair
has shifted to the extradition from Peru of former judge Dan Cohen, but what
about everybody else involved,” asked Aryeh Avneri, Ometz’s director.
don’t understand why the investigation was halted. There are $18m. that are just
wandering around. We want to know where the money went and to what
Ometz claims that the investigation into Cohen, which started
in 2003, revealed the mechanism through which Siemens transferred
According to the indictment, the money went through a straw
business consultancy firm owned and managed by the brother-in-law of the CEO of
Siemens Israel Limited.
“It appears that the bribery mechanism and the
use of the straw company was established by Siemens before the payments of
bribes to Cohen and was used to bribe other figures in the Israeli market,”
reads the petition.
The petition highlights repeated requests by Ometz,
starting from 2010, to the various law enforcement agencies, to explain the
reasons for not launching criminal investigations into Siemens and its
The only answer Ometz ever received was from the State
Attorney’s Office, which in a letter wrote that “In light of the complexity of
the case, it was unable to disclose its actions to bring to justice others
involved in the affair.”
In the petition, Ometz charges that the law
enforcement agencies have failed in their job to protect the rule of law by
failing to take action against the company, in what they describe as an
unprecedented corruption scandal.
“In light of the respondents’ behavior,
the petitioners will argue that the respondents’ failures are not due to
negligence, but are rather deliberate and even declared,” read the petition.
“The behavior of the respondents bears witness to complete collapse of the rule
of law when it comes to the highest echelons of the Israeli
Ometz said they were turning to the court because the statute of
limitations on bribery charges, which lasts for 10 years, is about to
Avneri said that Siemens officials were convicted in many other
countries, and that only in Israel they seemed to be protected.
himself represented Cohen as a private lawyer in the initial extradition
process. In January, Peru decided not to extradite Cohen.
Ministry declined to comment on the petition’s claims, answering only that they
had received the petition and would respond to it before the court.