In an unprecedented move, Accountant General Yaron Zelekha has complained to the police against Civil Service Commissioner Yossi Hollander, claiming that he had improperly influenced a tender to appoint a deputy accountant general. Hollander snorted that the story was "insane and funny," but he also called Zelekha a "bald-faced liar." Adi Rivlin, a former treasury official who's at the center of the latest furor, commented there's a broad consensus that Zelekha is mentally disturbed. He also added that soon there would be hardly anybody left in government against whom Zelekha hadn't filed a complaint.
"I usually don't say such things, but this story is so insane and amusing that I think you should have interviewed a psychologist, not me," Hollander responded yesterday morning on "What's burning," an Army Radio talk show hosted by Razi Barkai.
Zelekha took the extraordinary step of complaining to the police yesterday, charging that Hollander had illegally pushed the appointment of Rivlin as deputy accountant general, in coordination with top people at the Prime Minister's Office. At the time, disciplinary measures were being taken against Rivlin based on accusations he'd accepted improper perks from a supplier over which he was responsible, Zelekha explained in his complaint.
Rivlin formerly served as director of national debt and today serves as an external adviser to the Finance Minister. "I support the words of the civil service commissioner, and to the opinion of the many good people who have questioned the mental health of the accountant general," Rivlin told TheMarker yesterday. "There is a broad consensus that he's a disturbed man. The chairman of the coalition has said so, and so have others."
A year and a half ago Zelekha complained that Rivlin had traveled abroad at the expense of a company called MTS. The company, working with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, set up a new computer system for trading in Israeli government bonds.
Rivlin bit back, writing to the state comptroller: "Yaron Zelekha and his deputy always traveled at the expense of international investment firms, which are suppliers of the accountant general for the purposes of carrying out overseas (Israeli government bond) offerings. Each year Zelekha and his deputy traveled in style around the world at the expense of these suppliers, which receive commissions totaling tens of millions of dollars from the accountant general, and while these two pick the investment firms that carry out the offerings and receive commissions on them."
Rivlin also charges that no tenders were issued, as they should have been, to man the positions of deputy accountant general and senior deputy accountant general. To which Zelekha rebutted: "All appointments in the accountant general's branch have been done and will be done via tenders, led by the civil service commissioner, even beyond the directives laid down in the civil service articles."
Yesterday Rivlin repeated the accusation: "Back in February, I warned all the authorities that Zelekha was fixing tenders and making sure that only one person would contend in each," he said. "If another person tried to contend, he (Zelekha) would terrorize him."
He added that soon there would be hardly anybody left in government against whom Zelekha hadn't filed a complaint. "This is an official who's trying to start a revolution," Rivlin said.
Zelekha has made a name for himself in fighting corruption in government circles, at many levels. He made an enemy of Ehud Olmert by testifying that the prime minister, then finance minister, had intervened to change the terms of Bank Leumi's privatization to favor friends. Ultimately, the "friends" bowed out of the race for the bank. In the most recent twist, the new finance minister, Roni Bar-On, an associate of Olmert's, is refusing to extend Zelekha's contract, which ends in October.
"If after 35 years of work I'm among Zelekha's family of rotten officials, then so is the attorney general and the prosecution, which tipped the balance. We all worked together on this story," Hollander told Barkai.
Army Radio also reported yesterday that a top Jerusalem official said the purpose of intervening on Rivlin's behalf had been to make him accountant general, if the current drive to oust Zelekha succeeds.
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