Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar was indicted Thursday on allegations of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering, as well as obstruction of justice. The NIS 1.7 million indictment alleges that Bar expedited new construction projects in his city in return for bribes.
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Three Ramat Gan developers were also charged at Tel Aviv District Court, accused of paying the bribes to Bar. They are also accused of money laundering and obstruction of justice.
Through his lawyers, Bar has denied the charges in the indictment, which includes allegations involving five separate matters.
The first accuses Bar of receiving $224,000 in bribes and other favors from two developers in exchange for expediting the city's Beit Liror project. The bribe was purportedly paid to Bar by repaying a loan that Bar had taken out from a British bank. The money was allegedly paid by transferring cash to companies abroad, and from there to Bar's loan account at a London bank.
The second allegation is that Bar took another bribe from a developer who transferred stock shares to Bar's son, in a company the developer controlled. The developer was also said to have appointed the mayor's son as a director of the company.
The prosecution alleges that all of this was done in return for efforts by Bar to expedite the development of the Migdal Hatmarim project in Ramat Gan.
The mayor is accused of a conflict of interest, in that he is alleged to have been a partner in another business with the developer of the project.
The third count of the indictment alleges that Bar took $100,000 in bribes from a party with an interest in a land swap deal, in which the alleged bribe was disguised as a loan that Bar did not repay and for which repayment was never demanded.
Bar is also accused of a conflict of interest in his dealings with the party in the land swap project, due to social and financial ties with the person. He is also accused of obstruction of justice in the matter.
The fourth count alleges that Bar took NIS 465,000 in bribes and other favors from a party involved in the Hillcrest project in Ramat Gan, in return for expediting it and increasing the size of the project that the developer was permitted to carry out.
The fifth count alleges violations of income tax laws in connection with the bribes.
State Prosecutor Moshe Lador signed off on the filing of the indictment following a hearing.
Bar's lawyers, Navot Telzur and Yaron Lipshes, issued the following statement in response to the indictment: "The mayor roundly rejects the allegations attributed to him. Zvi Bar, who has served as Ramat Gan's mayor for 25 years, is a person privileged to have fought all of Israel's wars and then served in the police at the rank of major general. Bar has worked only to further the interests of Ramat Gan and its residents, and that is the reason he has enjoyed the overwhelming trust of the residents of the city in each of the past five elections."
The lawyers also claimed the indictment against their client was filed in violation of the law relating to charges against a serving mayor.
Lawyers for another defendant, David Levy, expressed the hope that his innocence would be proven in court.