Ethics @ Work: Taxes - The price of civilization

Despite scandal, Israeli tax system is becoming more civilized.

The CFO Forum was all set to bestow the Prime Minister's Award of Excellence on three recipients at its annual conference Tuesday night, but Israel Tax Authority Director General Jacky Matza wasn't there to collect his prize - rather Matza was sitting in jail after being arrested over an alleged fraud scandal at the Authority. The irony wasn't lost on the business world who's who gathered for the conference who wondered whether it was just bad luck that could explain the remarkable timing of the two events. Eyebrows were raised and a feeling of uneasiness encompassed the award hall as Minister of Finance Avraham Hirchson thanked the Tax Authority for its efficient and impeccable work. "I want to thank the Tax Authority, which faced unusual circumstances during the war. Jackie Matza and all his staff contributed to this work," said Hirchson. "We have had a difficult day today. I am sure that the police are doing credible and effective work. We can only hope that the investigation will end fast so that everyone can get back to work." Business people attending the event, however, were embarrassed and outraged about the alleged bribery case but expressed confidence in Matza's integrity and could not believe that he was directly involved in bribery cases. "We very much hope that the investigation turns out to be baseless and the investigated can get back to work as usual," said Noga Keinan, chairwoman of the CFO Forum.