That police acted improperly in their relations with prime ministerial candidate Benny Gantz’s former company, the Fifth Dimension, is a central allegation that emerges from a Wednesday report by the state comptroller.
Although the report never mentions Gantz or the Fifth Dimension by name, the timing and developments described regarding “Company A” in the report match up with Fifth Dimension’s business dealings with the police.
In February, Haaretz published a report that Fifth Dimension had gotten favored treatment from the police in a manner similar to some of the patterns described in the comptroller’s report in terms of being exempt from a competitive bidding process.
Joseph Shapira’s report mentions that “Company A” was given an unfair advantage when it got to be present during internal police meetings about whom to choose for the supplier role that Company A was competing for.
The police even granted Company A use of proprietary police technology at a discount to help it develop its solution, which the police wanted it to produce.
However, the report goes even further and accuses Company A of making misleading statements to the police, in order to win a NIS 4 million payment in 2016 to carry out a pilot project in the cyber-technology realm.
Gantz’s company eventually went bankrupt after the US sanctioned its main investor, a Russian tycoon linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But it is even possible that Gantz’s company could have been paid NIS 50m. by the police, if his company had not gone bankrupt.
All of this raises questions about whether Fifth Dimension representatives made false statements to the police to try to win a multi-million shekel deal – and if they did, whether Gantz knew.
Confronted about whether the comptroller’s office actually had reviewed documents used by Fifth Dimension to pitch the police, in which false statements were made, the comptroller’s spokesman said that his office had no documents from Company A.
Rather, the state comptroller’s spokesman said that the allegations of false statements against Company A were based on an internal police document which itself said was based on Company A’s representations.
This disclosure raises the question as to whether Fifth Dimension – possibly with Gantz’s knowledge – made false representations to police, or whether officials within the police cooked up their own internal documents which they said were based on Fifth Dimension representations, even though the company might not have made those representations.
It was also unclear exactly what role some ex-senior police officials who acted as middlemen between the police and Fifth Dimension played.
The State Comptroller’s Office simply responded that its authority was limited to probing the police, not a private company.
In any event, the report said the police internal document stated that Company A pitched police representing that it was founded in 2012, had five major governmental-authority-level clients, and already had the technology the police needed.
In fact, the state comptroller said that Company A was founded only in 2014 and, while it may have had clients in the pipeline, it had not actually made a single finalized sale when it made representations to the police.
Further, while Company A was working on the new technology, it was by no means ready.
The state comptroller would not confirm the identity of Company A, and a spokesperson for Gantz prior to the report coming out had said there is no explicit mention of Fifth Dimension in the report, and any connecting the dots is speculation.
Following the report’s publication, the Likud called for a criminal probe of Gantz by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit. Further, the Likud questioned whether there was improper conduct in a relationship between Gantz and the former police chief who had overseen the economic dealings, Roni Alsheich.
The attorney-general has not yet responded about whether he will address the allegations, but it is noteworthy that the state comptroller did not make a referral to Mandelblit under provisions of his authority which signal a recommendation for a criminal probe.
The police responded that they carefully follow the rules regarding their purchases, and that a government committee had signed off on them proceeding with Gantz’s company without a competitive bidding process.
According to police, the premise was that only Gantz’s company was even close to producing the solution that they wanted.
Both the police and a representative of Gantz’s company were quoted in the media as saying that the police had benefited from the pilot project in getting closer to the solution they needed.
A representative of Gantz’s company blamed the comptroller’s criticism either on the police or alternatively on the state comptroller for jumping to incorrect conclusions.
He denied that Fifth Dimension made the representations it is accused of making by the comptroller, saying that such falsehoods make no sense as they could be easily uncovered.
Gantz’s spokesperson rejected any criticism, saying the State Comptroller’s Report was focused on criticizing the police.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.