12 hours after the end of the mass demonstration in Tel Aviv against the Recommendations Bill, one of whose sponsors is coalition chairperson MK David Bitan (Likud), Bitan was questioned under caution by the police in the corruption affair in the Rishon Lezion municipality.
Bitan is suspected of bribery and money laundering when he served in senior positions in the Rishon Lezion municipality. He is also suspected of having promoted the interests of a senior member in a known criminal organization in exchange for the member's help in settling Bitan's debt in the gray market.
Bitan thereby officially became one of those to whom the controversial Recommendations Bill will apply if the Knesset passes its current version, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the subject of a criminal investigation.
This morning, following a year-long covert investigation, the Lahav 433 national fraud squad arrested 17 suspects currently serving in senior positions in the Rishon Lezion municipality, several contractors and businesspeople active in the city, and a known criminal from a known crime family.
Several hours later, Bitan also arrived at the police unit, and was questioned under caution for many hours. It was later reported that the wife of a Likud member had also been questioned in the affair. Publication of her name is barred at this stage.
The police asked the court for an eight-day remand of Rishon Lezion Deputy Mayor Eyal Moshayov, who is suspected of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. "The suspicion against the suspect is based on many documents," the judge stated in partly granting the police request by extending Moshayov's remand only until December 7. "In considerable parts of the investigation, matters are not consistent with the findings brought to me for my perusal," the judge states.
Mayor Dov Zur among those arrested
Permission was granted to report that Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Zur was among those arrested today on suspicion of bribery. His remand was extended until December 7.
"The offenses attributed to the suspect are bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. The suspicion is grounded in a number of investigative sources. The suspect's answers are not consistent with the evidence collected," the judge said about Zur.
"There are grounds for the suspect's arrest on suspicion of obstruction of justice… the suspect's part in the affair is clearly shown by the investigative file - but it is still only a suspicion," the judge added.
Links to criminal groups
The police stated, "During the investigation, alleged links were detected by the police between criminal groups and various officeholders in the local and national government." Some of the suspects were brought to the Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court for extension of their remand.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on December 3, 2017
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