Containers at Ashdod Port
Containers at Ashdod Port. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Yehoshua Sagis handed in his resignation Sunday as CEO of Ashdod Port amid a storm of criticism against the private business interests of a close associate, port union chairman Alon Hassan. The resignation takes effect on November 1, but the port's vice president for logistics, Yossi Bassan, is expected to step in as acting CEO until a permanent chief executive is appointed.

Hassan suspended himself from his job as union chief last month; Sagis had stood behind him for two years despite the criticism.

The port has been terminating its dealings with Hassan's businesses, a process that hasn’t gone smoothly. At a board meeting on Hops Industries, a maker of cleaning products, Bassan said his employees were "afraid to publish a tender for replacing Hassan's cleaning products." Hops Industries is owned by Hassan and Yigal Gozland, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for arson with the intention of defrauding an insurance company.

Sagis, who stepped down after eight years as CEO, was paid NIS 60,000 a month and earned more than NIS 5 million while running the port. During his years at the helm, Ashdod Port suffered hundreds of days’ worth of sanctions over pay demands by port workers led by Hassan, or an average of NIS 450,000 a year. In 2012 alone, port activities were subject to 66 days of sanctions.

Last month the Government Companies Authority sent a scathing report to the attorney general on Hassan's performance. The report was written by an external auditor appointed by the port at the companies authority’s behest.

"The report raises troubling questions over ties between the private businesses of the port workers' committee chairman and Ashdod Port Company,” the companies authority said, citing concerns about harm to both the port and its customers.

Meanwhile, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel has filed a police complaint against Hassan alleging that he abused his status as a public employee and chairman for his own personal gain.

"The movement's stance is that suspicions arise about criminal acts by Hassan and port officials," the movement said. "These offenses include abuse of power, fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes."