Facing the humiliation of its longtime CEO being barred from approaching his office or co-workers, Israel Aircraft Industries on Thursday quickly appointed a replacement as acting chief executive during the absence of Moshe Keret.
Keret had been questioned on Tuesday by Police investigators from the International Serious Crimes Unit on suspicion of receiving bribes and kickbacks. Keret was released after questioning, but authorities also issued a restraining order barring Keret from entering corporate headquarters and other IAI facilities.
IAI's board of directors announced on Thursday morning that Ovadia Harari was being appointed as acting chief executive officer. Harari, 52, had been Keret's deputy and was previously general manager of IAI's Military Aircraft Group and earlier of the Electronics Group. He has worked with IAI since 1970.
"This decision was based on limitations imposed on Mr. Keret that prevent him from entering IAI grounds for a limited time," the short statement said. "The purpose of this decision is to ensure continuity and the company's normal course of business."
It added that the board of directors had full faith in the company, its management and its "moral" workers.
The police investigation was launched on the heels of a report by the State Comptroller which uncovered alleged financial irregularities in IAI deals with two businessmen who represented the company in Europe
. According to police, Keret was suspected of receiving bribes and kickbacks in exchange for preferential treatment and higher-than-average commissions on deals with European countries.
Keret, who joined the state-owned IAI as a mechanical engineer in1955, has been its chief for over 20 years.