Five local officials arrested for alleged bribery, money laundering

Five local officials arr

The police's Lahav 433 unit arrested five officials from the Local Government Economic Services Company on Monday on suspicion they awarded tenders for municipal projects in exchange for bribes. The arrests came after an undercover investigation that spanned over a year. On Monday, dozens of officers raided the suspects' homes and offices and reportedly seized documents and computers belonging to them. Among other allegations, a senior official in the company's directorate is accused of conspiring with an additional suspect posing as an adviser, to advance building and service initiatives of private entrepreneurs in exchange for bribes. The suspects, who also include two contractors and an architect, could face charges of accepting bribes, breach of trust, concealing the source of funds, money laundering, and the fraudulent use of official documents. Police would not say on Monday which building projects or service contracts were linked to the alleged bribery, nor would they disclose the amount of money involved, pending the lifting of a court-imposed gag order. The subjects were scheduled to be brought before a Rishon Lezion court Monday evening, where police were to seek an extension of their remand. Police said Monday they expected their ongoing investigations to probe additional suspects in the coming days. The Local Government Economic Services Company was founded in 1974 to provide services to local municipalities in Israel, with the intention of lowering operating costs and making public services more efficient. Today, the body manages operating funds totaling NIS 2.4 billion each year and makes decisions on who receives approval for building projects and contracts to supply municipal services in local authorities nationwide.