Avraham Hirchson indicted in Tel Aviv court

Former finance minister charged with stealing NIS 2.5 million from Histadrut between 1998 and 2005.

Hirchson worried 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hirchson worried 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The state indicted former finance minister Avraham Hirchson in the Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday and charged him with stealing NIS 2.5 million from the National Federation of Workers (NFW) and its subsidiary, Nili, between 1998 and 2005. The indictment included three other senior officials of the organizations - Yitzhak Ruso, Amatzia Boner and Zion Cohen. According to the indictment, Hirschson conspired with NFW treasurer Ovadia Cohen to steal money from the two organizations. During 2000-2003, Hirchson received under-the-table monthly payments of NIS 25,000 to cover "expenses." He also received large sums of money for trips abroad, medicines, holiday "bonuses," and political activity that included two Likud primary campaigns. According to a second charge, the NFW paid more than NIS 120,000 for Hirchson's restaurant bill for meals on the weekends, when he was not working, and in the Knesset. The indictment was submitted by Tel Aviv district attorneys Eliahu Shoretz-Shoef, Lilach Blum, Roni Mudrick and Erez Rittenberg. The prosecutors asked the court to appoint a panel of three judges to hear the case. In the request, Tel Aviv District Attorney Ruth David wrote that the court had determined that "there is reason to appoint an expanded panel if the trial raises difficult and complex factual or legal questions or has far-reaching legal or public consequences." She wrote that the senior public offices held by Hirchson meant that the trial had very serious public consequences. Hirchson has hardly spoken in public since the news of the suspicions against him erupted. He left his cabinet post on April 24, 2007, during the investigation. "I don't know whether I'm doing the right thing [by resigning] in order to cope with the situation," he said in a prepared statement at the time. "I certainly have not chosen the easy and customary way in this country of bitter attacks on the law enforcement authorities, the media and the political system, even though I may be critical of some of them. I preferred to remain silent, even when I had to grit my teeth. I will not break that silence now."