Ramat Gan mayor to be indicted on corruption charges

Likud MK Carmel Shama Hacohen: “He turned corruption into an art form”; municipality: “Mayor does not intend to resign.”

Ramat Gan 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
Ramat Gan 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy )
The financial division of the State Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that it planned to indict Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar, subject to a hearing, on charges of receiving bribes, money-laundering, fraud, forgery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.
Bar is suspected of receiving bribes worth more than NIS 2 million from five different real estate contractors on four different occasions between 2003 and 2008.
Prior to the Pessah holiday the state froze Bar’s real estate assets and bank accounts estimated to be worth NIS 5m.
A year ago the police concluded the investigation into Bar’s alleged offenses, recommending that he be indicted.
The police suspect Bar of granting liberal building permits to contractors in Ramat Gan, increasing the number of units per project by hundreds of percent, as well as a series of other actions for which he allegedly received payment through proxies in foreign countries.
The State Attorney’s Office announced that it was also considering indicting the five contractors on charges of giving bribes as well as moneylaundering and fraud. Four of the contractor’s names were cleared for publication; they are Haim Gayer, David and Meir Levi and Shaul Lagziel.
The name of the fifth suspect was not released.
The prosecution stated that they had large amounts of evidence proving Bar’s alleged actions, including thousands of documents and testimonies collected from witnesses both in Israel and abroad.
Bar (76) was first elected mayor in 1989 and since then was elected again in 1993,1998, 2003 and 2008.
Before entering local politics, Bar served in the police and in 1977 was appointed commander of the Border Police.
Likud MK Carmel Shama- Hacohen, who first lodged the complaint against Bar in 2007, when he was chairman of the Ramat Gan Municipal Control Committee said he was satisfied with the prosecution’s announcement.
“As the person who first filed the police complaint against Bar as chairman of the local control committee and suffered threats and humiliations by him and his cronies as a result, I am full of satisfaction and pride at the law enforcement agencies, though I’m not in the least bit happy with this decision.
“It is a sad day for the city of Ramat Gan and its residents who, for more than 20 years, put their trust in a man who raised corruption to an art form in terms of both daring and sophistication,” said Shama-Hacohen.
“For years I have battled to expose the true face of the man who conducted a reign of terror over the clerks and elected officials at city hall. To my sorrow, we have only managed to expose the tip of the iceberg. Nearly every construction project in Ramat Gan is tainted with corruption.”
Shama-Hacohen also charged that prior to the prosecution’s announcement, Bar managed to “buy off” two local opposition members, granting them deputy mayor status in exchange for his political survival.
The Ramat Gan mayor’s office in response accused the State Attorney’s Office of attempting to prejudice the public against Bar.
“Freezing his [Bar’s] accounts on the eve of the holiday, prior to conducting a hearing, was an unnecessary move aimed at harming Bar for harm’s sake and possibly to create a public atmosphere that would make it impossible for him to battle [to prove] his honesty. Zvi Bar’s hands are clean and he will not back down from carrying on his public service for the city of Ramat Gan and its residents, despite the need to defend himself from the false accusations hurled against him,” read the city spokesman’s message.
“The mayor looks forward to being given the chance to once and for all do justice to 22 years of defamation and lies hurled at him by a welloiled mechanism led by hateful and vengeful people who Bar prevented from getting their hands on city assets and getting rich at the taxpayer’s expense,” read the statement.
“The mayor has no intention of resigning, the law doesn’t require him to resign and he plans to continue working for the benefit of the residents of Ramat Gan, even while defending himself in court,” the statement concluded.