Blame starts to fly at ITA

Tax Authority leadership sends letter urging employees to be patient and resolute.

JACKY MATZA 88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
As police investigated alleged corruption in the Israel Tax Authority for a third day Thursday, releasing three prime suspects to house arrest in the evening, the authority's leadership issued a letter aimed at bolstering employee morale while its branches engaged in mudslinging. More than a dozen suspects who were arrested earlier this week were brought to the National Fraud Squad's Bat Yam offices, this time to listen - with detectives - to recordings from wiretaps on suspects' phones. The letter from the remaining ITA leaders urged employees to be patient and resolute. "Especially in these times," the letter read, "it is important to remember the critical importance of the ITA and its contributions to the country, which come from the faithful and diligent work of its employees, who have proved their dedication and professionalism over the years." Nevertheless, cracks are appearing within the ITA. Rumors began to spread Thursday that members of its Income Tax Division are blaming employees of the VAT and Import Duties Division for introducing poor ethical standards to the agency. The remands of three suspects - former ITA head Eitan Rub, Jerusalem businessman Simon Toubul and agency adviser Galit Simhon were due to end Thursday, and all three were released to house arrest following hearings before the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court. Rub was released to 10 days of house arrest late Wednesday evening and issued a restraining order barring him from entering the ITA's offices for 90 days. Simhon was allegedly captured on tape asking businessman Kobi Ben-Gur to help her gain a promotion within the ITA. A second recording allegedly documents Ben-Gur discussing the matter with current ITA head Jackie Matza. A short time later, Simhon was appointed to a position within Matza's office.