Yitzhak Ohayon - Nir Keidar
Petah Tikva Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon Photo by Nir Keidar
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Police arrested Petah Tikva's leading municipality figures, including the mayor, on Tuesday for alleged bribery, fraud, and money laundering.

The National Fraud Investigation unit arrested Petah Tikva Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon, Deputy Mayor Oriel Bosso, as well as a group of other municipality employees.

Police suspect that the suspects illegally received money and favors both during and after an election campaign in 2008. They are also suspected of receiving money from business owners who had interests in the city.

This is not the first time that a city head has been suspected of similar charges. In 2009, the mayor of Bat Yam was arrested over allegations that he accepted bribes, accepted personal favors and acted inappropriately while serving in a public position.

Police took action over the allegations in Petah Tikva on Tuesday, raiding the city hall, searching the suspects' homes, and confiscating material from their computers.

After being arrested, the suspects were interrogated by the Israel Anti Fraud Unit in Lod.

This was not the first corruption case that Mayor Ohayon has been involved in. A few years ago, Ohayan called for the resignation of his former deputy, Sinai Gilboa, due to allegations of accepting bribery from the Dan bus company.

Gilboa resigned after it became known that he had accepted 15 million NIS in bribes from Dan in exchange for using his status to kill a plan to develop land that the bus cooperative owned in Petah Tikva. The bribes were paid into the account of the Harel Dvir company, which Gilboa managed and which was registered in his wife's name.

Ohayon was first elected mayor in 1998 and is now in his third term. Prior to his election, he was the head of the municipality youth and sport department for 10 years, and before that, he headed the landscape and parks department for 11 years. He simultaneously served as deputy chair of the local government in Petah Tikva.