Court rejects Hirchson's appeal on theft conviction

Judge dismisses former finance minister’s claim that millions of shekels stolen from the Histadrut were paid to him as a "sort of salary."

hirchson top- use for conviction 298.175 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
hirchson top- use for conviction 298.175
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Rivlin rejected on Monday the appeal of former finance minister Avraham Hirchson against his conviction and sentence on four counts of stealing millions of shekels from the National Workers Labor Federation during his time as chairman.
In 2009, Hirchson was convicted in the Tel Aviv District Court and sentenced to 65 months in prison and a fine of NIS 450,000.
The charges of theft for which Hirchson was found guilty include receipt of monthly payments of between NIS 25,000 and NIS 30,000, which were brought to his home in cash envelopes between 2000 and 2005.
Hirchson was also found guilty of theft by receiving monies to celebrate the holidays, receiving money for trips abroad and stealing money to finance personal medical treatments.
In his appeal, Hirchson claimed the monthly sums were paid to him as a “sort of salary” for his work in the federation, and therefore he did not steal the money.
Hirchson further claimed he had needed to hide the payments because of the prohibition on receiving wages from any other body except the Knesset according to the MK Immunity Law.
The Supreme Court rejected Hirchson’s arguments, holding this version contradicted his previous versions, that it was raised by the defense only at a later stage and that it went against “financial reality, logic and common sense.
“In a world where cash is disappearing, to receive money in cash envelopes such that those monies are not documented or recorded openly in the organization’s ledgers, is a clear indication that the payments are not kosher. Such cash envelopes raise a red flag of illegality that imposes on the person receiving them the burden of proving that the payments are kosher,” Rivlin wrote in his ruling.
The court also rejected Hirchson’s appeal of his sentence, and instead held that it reflects the severity of his actions.
“[Hirchson] was convicted of stealing huge sums from the coffers of public bodies he had headed for years. Taking these funds, which were meant to serve the public needs of members of the National Workers Labor Federation, and using them for personal needs, requires a punishment that is consistent with the severity of these acts,” the justice wrote.