The head of the Tax Authority’s National Investigations and Intelligence Branch
was arrested on Tuesday, on suspicion of taking bribes to “make problems go
away” for people with tax troubles.
Tikva mayor, deputy arrested in bribery probe
Over several years, the main suspect,
David Vanunu, personally took bribes and met with people who sought to extricate
themselves from Tax Authority investigations, or received bribes via middle-men
who then took a cut, police said.
Four suspects were also arrested by the National Fraud Unit, on
suspicion of acting as intermediaries in the bribe transfers.
One of those arrested is Kadima director-general Moshe Schori, who is suspected of paying bribes to Vanunu to extricate his wife from a Tax Authority investigation. Schori admitted to meeting with Vanunu but denied passing any bribes to him.
mediated between those who owed the Tax Authority funds and Vanunu.
charged a commission for their services,” a police source told The Jerusalem
During the hearing, Vanunu’s attorney, Nati Simhoni, said he was
“confident of my client’s innocence.”
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Judge Rafi Aranya of the Rishon
Lezion Magistrate’s Court, who was a party to the police’s undercover
investigation for several months, said, “This is a complex investigation. The
basis of evidence is most significant, and ties the suspect not only to these
suspicions, but also to other directions that need to be
Aranya ordered Vanunu held in custody for a
One of those suspected by police of acting as an intermediary for
bribes is Reuven Schiff, former head of the Institute of Certified Public
Accountants in Israel, who was arrested just before boarding a flight at
Schiff’s lawyer, Jack Chen, told the court, “This is
a totally unnecessary arrest. The suspicions are baseless.”
that “everything is hidden in a secret report,” referring to a classified
dossier that contained the alleged evidence against his client but that had been
made available to the court only.
Chen added that his client’s good name
had been damaged irreparably by the arrest, and pleaded with the court to
release him to house arrest.
Aranya said a reasonable suspicion existed
against Schiff, but released him to a week’s house arrest on bail, saying Schiff
had provided a full account of his version of events, which now “needed to be
Schori was arrested on suspicion of bribing Vanunu
to make an investigation into his wife’s tax affairs “go away.”
Kadima Party has placed Schori on a temporary leave of absence pending the
result of the investigation.
Schori’s defense attorney, Avi Himi, said
during the remand hearing that the Kadima director- general had been arrested in
his home on Tuesday morning and questioned for seven hours.
cooperated fully,” Himi said.
The attorney added that there was nothing
wrong with the fact that Schori had met Vanunu twice, at a shopping center and
at a cafe, to see whether the investigation of his wife would result in a fine
or an indictment.
“There was a tax problem in his family. Mr. Schori met
Vanunu twice. He did not pass on any bribes whatsoever.
is nothing illegal about a meeting,” Himi said.
“This is a former IDF
intelligence officer who was in possession of some of the most sensitive
material in Israel,” Himi added. Schori is a former brigadier-general and IDF
chief intelligence officer.
Schori was released to a week’s house
The Likud, meanwhile, said Kadima had become a “greenhouse for
A party spokeswoman said Schori’s house arrest put
him in the company of convicted former Kadima ministers Avraham Hirchson, Haim
Ramon and Tzachi Hanegbi, and under-investigation former prime minister Ehud
Kadima said in response that the incident had nothing to do with
the party and that Vanunu was a Likud central committee member who had been
appointed to his position by former Likud finance minister Silvan
“The Likud, which sent a rapist to be president, is in no
position to scold us,” Kadima MK Yoel Hasson said.
Yoel Mugami, described
by police as a political adviser to Schori and an associate of Vanunu, was
arrested on suspicion of mediating bribe transfers, assisting a bribe transfer,
laundering funds, and other offenses.
Police accuse Mugami, who is a
member of the Petah Tikva religious council, of acting as one of the main
channels to Vanunu and abusing his position.
In one alleged incident,
Mugami is suspected of receiving NIS 200,000 to pass on to Vanunu from
now-deceased businessman Ran Hadar to deal with a tax problem.
know it was a criminal offense to pass it on,” Mugami’s attorney said in court
on Tuesday. Mugami’s custody was extended by six days.
officer Koti Barzilai is also suspected of acting as a bribe intermediary, and
was ordered by the court to remain in custody for seven days.
suspect, who cannot be named due to a media ban, was ordered to remain in
custody for four days.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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