2014 - Year of Sleaze, Corruption & Justice
|Ehud Olmert & Shula Zaken at the Holyland Trial|
The high profile corruption cases this past year included this litany of public figures and institutions:
"Holyland" - Ehud Olmert (ex Prime Minister, ex-Mayor of Jerusalem), Shula Zaken (Olmert's long serving PA), Dan Dankner (head of Bank Hapoalim), Uri Lupolianski (Mayor of Jerusalem, and founder & head of Yad Sarah) and other high ranking officials were sentenced to up to 6 year prison terms for bribery & corruption, mainly in connection to the re-zoning of the land around the Holyland Hotel in Jerusalem.
Israel Beiteinu - deputy interior minister Faina Kirshenbaum has been questioned by police; former tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov was also detained - along with around 20 additional officials, mainly associated with Israel Beiteinu. The allegations concern channeling funds to officials through NPOs and creating fictitious jobs around the country for party officials.
Israel Electricity Company -six current and former senior Israel Electric Corporation officials, were arrested as part of an Israel Securities Authority investigation into a tender from 1999-2001, when Israel purchased gas turbines from Siemens for more than $650 million. A former District Court Judge, Dan Cohen, who was also a director of IEC has already been sentenced to 6 year in prison, and has turned State Witness.
Ports Authority - After years of rumour and scandal about corruption at Ashdod Port, 15 people were arrested on suspicion of large-scale corruption at the Port, including Alon Hassan, chairman of the port’s union. They are suspected, among other things, of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, extortion and violations of the Prohibition on Money Laundering Law.
Israel Discount Bank - Nochi Dankner (I believe nephew of Dan Dankner, see above) - was indicted for a series of financial crimes associated with a scam to inflate IDB share prices during the stock flotation.
Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger and five other suspects were arrested in December in a case involving corruption, money laundering and election fraud, all uncovered during a year-long investigation of the city’s municipality.
Fuad Ben-Eliezer - Labor Party MK Binyamin Ben- Eliezer was questioned several times by police this year, after details of allegations against him were cleared for publication. Ben-Eliezer is suspected of having accepted $400,000 from oil magnate Avraham Nanikashvili in return for submitting a deposition on his behalf in a 2007 tax probe. Other allegations involve million of shekels in bribes.
Leumi Card - a huge embezzlement scheme was brought down by Israel's 433 Unit, involving an ex-employee of Leumi Card, who stole hundreds of thousands (others say Millions) of credit card details and then attempted to hold the information to ransom against the company.
Other simmering corruption scandals, include the Harpaz Affair (featuring the former IDF Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, Ehud Barak and Boaz Harpaz, who was tapped to be the next Chief of Staff); and a curious allegation brought by disgraced ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who was taped by Shula Zaken revealing information about huge bribes paid to Ehud Barak (ex-Prime Minister & Defence Minister) on defence contracts - not to mention Olmert's recorded direct offers of shut-up bribes to Zaken herself.
One can be sickened by the level and extent of corruption which was brought to light in Israel during 2014, or comforted by the fact that the Israeli press, ombudsman, police and judicial system have had the backbone and resources to successfully make a dent in the endemic problem.