David Gilo
David Gilo. Photo by Ofer Vaknin
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Prof. David Gilo, one of the two finalists for antitrust commissioner, has numerous conflicts of interest that must be investigated, wrote the Movement for Quality Government in Israel yesterday.

The organization revealed a long list of legal opinions Gilo wrote for various business interests that could preclude him from making decisions concerning a large number of companies. It sent this by letter to a string of senior officials, asking them to examine the matter.

Gilo is a law professor at Tel Aviv University and also sits on the Antitrust Tribunal.

Outgoing Antitrust Commissioner Ronit Kan announced her resignation in November 2010.

Many antitrust experts were surprised not only that Gilo was chosen as one of the two finalists due to his lukewarm views on antitrust issues, but also that Maher Dabbah, an internationally known antitrust expert, was not on the shortlist.

In the past, Gilo has said the Isreli economy is not overly centralized, and the head of the IDB conglomerate, Nochi Dankner, used an opinion of Gilo's in his fight against establishing a committee to examine the over-concentration of economic power in Israel.

The Movement for Quality Government sent its query to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz; Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer; Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon; and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Simhon, the minister responsible for the Antitrust Authority, is scheduled to meet today with the two final candidates, Gilo and Boaz Golan, the chief legal counsel for the Antitrust Authority.He is expected to choose one and present his candidate to the cabinet for approval Sunday.

"The Movement feels it is necessary to examine the number of matters Gilo could not handle," it wrote. The organization questioned whether this would prevent Gilo from being an effective antitrust commissioner, due to his work for so many people "in an economy with such a small number of actors."

For example, Gilo wrote an opinion for Bezeq as part of its request to end its definition as a monopoly. Gilo also supported the cellular phone companies in their fight against lowering mobile termination rates. In addition, Gilo supplied real estate firm Melisron with a legal opinion supporting its merger with British Israel. In that opinion, Gilo stated the merger did not harm competition, even though the Antitrust Authority required a number of concessions from Melisron before it approved the merger.

The Movement asked if Gilo had revealed his potential conflicts of interest as required, and demanded to see the documentation.

"Gilo is a classic candidate for someone who wants to weaken the Antitrust Authority," said an antitrust expert yesterday. He may change his views if appointed, said another.

No comment could be obtained from Gilo.