ITA's NY rep arrested at Ben Gurion

Tax chief Jacky Matza sent to house arrest as bribery scandal inquiry continues.

yaakov matza 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yaakov matza 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A new name was added to the list of suspects in the Israel Tax Authority corruption scandal with the arrest of ITA representative to the United States Yigal Sa'ar shortly after his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport Monday. Although police would not elaborate on the allegations against Sa'ar, they confirmed that investigators had summoned him to return from his US offices for questioning. Upon arrival, Sa'ar was arrested and taken to the Bat Yam offices of the National Fraud Squad. He is the latest in a parade of senior ITA officials to pass through the gauntlet outside the elite unit's doors. As Sa'ar's questioning began, his boss, ITA head Jackie Matza, was released from jail to house arrest Monday evening. Matza, who had been in jail since last Tuesday, and the police came to an agreement that the now-suspended ITA head will be under house arrest for 16 days and is barred from entering the authority's offices for an additional 30 days. Businessman Kobi Ben Gur, who was taken Sunday from the National Fraud Squad's interrogation rooms to Tel Hashomer for examinations after he felt unwell during questioning was returned to his cell at Abu Kabir Detention Facility late Sunday night. Although there were reports that Ben Gur would be brought for a staged confrontation together with fellow suspect Shula Zaken on Monday in order to make order out of their differing accounts, police said that the conversation did not take place. Instead, the questioning Monday centered on presenting the suspects with the evidence gathered against them by detectives so far. The National Fraud Squad is investigating allegations that ITA appointments - including that of Matza himself - were influenced by powerful businessmen. Police suspect that after they were appointed, the businessmen would approach them in order to gain preferential treatment in tax assessments.