State files bribery, theft indictment against Foreign Ministry officials

The Cairo embassy officials allegedly used ministry money to pay for NIS 150,000 worth of food, among other lavish expenses.

An Israeli flag flies at the top of the Israeli embassy in Cairo August 19, 2011 (photo credit: REUTERS)
An Israeli flag flies at the top of the Israeli embassy in Cairo August 19, 2011
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Justice Ministry Economic Crimes Division on Wednesday filed an indictment with the Jerusalem District Court against two senior Foreign Ministry officials for bribery and theft amounting to hundreds of thousands of shekels between 2008-2013.
A major part of the alleged criminal activity by the two officials, acquisitions head Avshalom Ashuri and his deputy, Yehoshua Gabai, related to Israel’s Cairo Embassy, which was vacated during an attack on the embassy during protests in Egypt and in 2011.
It remained unoccupied until officials recently returned and reopened it in September.
Ashuri and Gabai had knowledge of and access to various ministry financial accounts. When the embassy was being evacuated, a security guard grabbed around $100,000 in a bag from an embassy safe to bring back to Israel.
About $25,000 fell out of the bag and was lost, but around $75,000 made it back to Israel and was placed in a special account.
Gabai made multiple attempts to draw from the account in order to steal the funds, said the indictment.
The charge sheet did not explain what the outcome of those attempts was.
Ashuri and Gabai were also each accused of using ministry funds to pay for trips to Eilat and elsewhere costing hundreds of thousands of shekels.
In addition, the two men are accused of taking kickbacks from a ministry supplier.
Ashuri and Gabai had the authority to approve office purchases and were in charge of maintaining communications with a ministry supplier named David Mirilly.
As part of that relationship, Mirilly provided Ashuri air conditioning units worth NIS 23,000 for personal use for free, stated the indictment.
Mirilly also provided Gabai with a refrigerator, oven and stove worth NIS 14,000 for personal use for free.
In addition to the above issues, Ashuri and Gabai allegedly used ministry funds to pay for NIS 150,000 worth of food items.
A Justice Ministry statement noted that Mirilly was indicted in September and had cut a plea bargain with the state, becoming a state’s witness against Ashuri and Gabai.