The Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) and the workers' committees at the banks are troubled by a bill to extend the authority of Knesset investigative committees. Sources inform "Globes" that following appeals from some of the workers' committees at the banks, the Histradrut is taking measures to prevent the authority of an investigative committee from being extended to the issuing of subpoenas to workers, as well as bank officers, who bear the responsibility for important actions at the bank.
The Knesset recently decided to establish an investigative committee to examine the distribution of credit by the banks and financial institutions to the large borrowers in the economy. The decision was taken after the downfall of businessman Eliezer Fishman revealed that his debts had exceeded NIS 4 billion. As of now, however, the authority of a Knesset investigative committee is rather limited, being more or less that same as that of ordinary Knesset committees. It was therefore decided to amend the law in order to extend an investigative committee's authority. A bill sponsored by Knesset House Committee chairman MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) proposes empowering an investigative committee to compel workers to appear before it; if they refuse, sanctions will be imposed on them. It is also being proposed to require entities to present documents at the committee's demand, including those to which banking confidentiality and other types of confidentiality apply.
At a Knesset House Committee meeting last week, three financial regulators (the Supervisor of Banks, the Israel Securities Authority chairman, and the Capital Market Authority head) appeared and opposed granting investigative committees this authority. They even threatened that if the bill passes, there would be dire consequences for the economy. It now appears that the workers' committees at the banks have added themselves to the list of the bill's opponents, and have enlisted the Histadrut in their efforts. What is worrying the workers' committees is the fact that workers and managers, not just senior officers, will be obligated to appear before an investigative committee. A source associated with the workers' committees told "Globes" that the measure was "undemocratic and unjust. With all due respect, it was officers who approved credit for Eliezer Fishman's hostess, not the junior employees."
"Junior employees and managers have no insurance or indemnity. If they are summoned to an investigative committee, they will be exposed later to derivative claims. Such a situation must not be allowed," a senior source on one of the workers' committees added, mentioning that the bill also exposes workers who have already retired.
Political sources predicted that there was little chance of the bill passing this summer in its current form.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on July 10, 2017
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