Former MK Ofer Hugi convicted of fraud

Former Shas party MK convicted on multiple offenses; liable to up to five years on each count.

ofer hugi 298.88 (photo credit: )
ofer hugi 298.88
(photo credit: )
The Jerusalem District Court on Monday convicted former Shas MK Ofer Hugi for defrauding the government out of NIS 3.5 million while serving as director-general of two school systems established by Jerusalem Rabbi Shmuel Elbaz. Hugi was convicted of forgery in aggravated circumstances, making use of a forged document and obtaining money by deceit in aggravated circumstances. Each count carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. According to the ruling, in an attempt to get more funds for school bus rides, Hugi exaggerated the number of pupils on lists he submitted to the Education Ministry, and thus received NIS 2 million from the ministry. Justice Yossef Shapira said that "the defendant gave in false lists of pupils where he enlarged the numbers of pupils entitled to get a state-funded school bus, whereas in reality some of the pupils didn't even exist. Regarding some of the pupils in the lists, the distance between their homes and schools was overplayed. The defendant received personal benefits from the 'Hameimad Ha'asiri' company, which included salaries paid to his wife, Mrs. Rahel Hugi." Hugi also falsified documents pertaining to the tender he was obliged by the government to conduct before deciding which company would transport the children. He was convicted for fabricating bids from two bus companies, and submitting a lower one from Hameimad Ha'asiri, a company he owned. Hugi's worst offense, for which he was convicted of forgery in aggravated circumstances, was falsifying the existence of an entire technological college. "The organizations received funds for subsidizing studies that never existed, and the employees of the Ministry [of Social Affairs] testify to this clearly. The defendant's and his accomplices' behavior created an apparent facade of a general school, while in reality studies were strictly Judaic studies. Even when more students were brought in, they were studying solely Judaic subjects," the judges said in the ruling. During the trial it was found that the employees of the Ministry of Social Affairs were aware of Hugi's actions.