Tax Authority workers are in 'state of shock' [p. 17]

One day after Jacky Matza, director of the Israel Tax Authority and his predecessor Eitan Rob, were on arrested in connection with a fraud and bribery scandal in which businessmen allegedly paid bribes in exchange for job appointments and tax breaks, the Authority was operating without any leadership. "If Matza cannot take up his position in the wake of the latest events, an immediate solution needs to be found to ensure the functioning and proper management of the Israel Tax Authority," said Uriel Lynn, president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and former supervisor of state revenues. Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson is expected today to visit the tax authority offices in Tel Aviv and meet with the heads of the divisions, but a decision over a temporary replacement for the detained Matza has not yet been reached. "We are facing difficult days and we know that the police are doing their work fast and efficiently. But we need to do everything so that the Israel Tax Authority and the Ministry of Finance continue to function as normal and workers get back to work despite the difficulties," Hirchson said in an urgent meeting with top aides and representatives of the Finance Ministry's administration on Wednesday. Among the candidates touted as potential replacements for Matza are Yehuda Nasradishi, his deputy and Head of Professional Administration, and Boaz Soffer, Senior Deputy Director General responsible for Finance and Development. In the meantime, the heads of the various divisions at the tax authority offices are trying to hold up morale, portraying a "business as usual" attitude. "We are working like on any other day, the investigation has nothing to do with the continuation of our work and the way we work," said a tax authority employee at the Tel Aviv office. Meanwhile, the Authority said its administration and heads of divisions made a plea to their employees to continue to work as usual and make decisions and assessments. However, professionals who spoke to Tax Authority employees in the wake of the events, said everyone was in a "state of shock" over the allegations and were very hesitant and cautious in anything they told them or in making any decisions.