Shmuel Dachner - Moti Kimche
Businessman Shmuel Dachner last April. Photo by Moti Kimche
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Businessman Shmuel Dachner, one of the big names in Jerusalem's Holyland bribery affair, is also playing a major role in the latest corruption scandal at the Israel Tax Authority.

Dachner, 74, served as a business consultant for the Holyland real estate project. He says he transferred millions of shekels in bribes over the years to various businessmen in the project, including Hillel Charney, as well as to various officials at city hall and in the Israel Lands Administration.

In recent statements to the police, Dachner tied David Vanunu, the head of field intelligence and investigations for the Tax Authority's central region, to the bribery apparatus at the authority. Vanunu was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of accepting bribes.

The money allegedly came from people who had problems with the Tax Authority and, using middlemen and fixers, gave Vanunu and others cash-filled envelopes.

Vanunu was questioned under caution in October in what the police called a peripheral part of the Holyland investigation. Vanunu was suspected of accepting a bribe from Dachner.

Vanunu's lawyer, Natan Simchony, told Haaretz yesterday that his client was innocent and was cooperating fully with the police.

Vanunu's questioning was considered something of a surprise at the time, coming after the police had finished their investigation of the Holyland affair and had passed the file on to the State Prosecutor's Office.

Vanunu was released at the time and returned to work at the Tax Authority.

Many officials arrested

The police declined to comment on Dachner's involvement in the case, though they denied that he was serving as a state's witness. However, sources say that even if Dachner does not receive state's witness status, he is expected to testify for the prosecution.

Also arrested in the bribery affair were Moshe Shchory, the director general of the Kadima party and a brigadier general in the reserves, and Reuven Schiff, a former president of the Israel Chamber of Accountants. Shchory's deputy, Yoel Mugami, was also among those arrested.

Kadima chief Tzipi Livni has put both on leave.

After months of secret investigations, the police will now call in many other suspects and witnesses for questioning.