Police Recommend Indicting Rabbi Avraham Yosef on Extortion Charges

Fraud squad suspects he coerced business owners to purchase foods that were under the supervision of a kashrut supervisory organization belonging to one of his brothers.

Nir Kafri

The police have recommended indicting Rabbi Avraham Yosef on charges of extortion and breach of trust.

Yosef, son of the late Shas spiritual leader and former sephardi chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has served as the municipal rabbi of Holon since 1998. He was also in charge of kashrut supervision for the Or Yehuda municipality from 2008 to 2011.

Police suspect that he coerced business owners to purchase foods that were under the supervision of Beit Yosef, a flourishing kashrut supervisory organization that belongs to one of his brothers, Moshe Yosef.

It is believed that Yosef threatened the business owners with cancellation of their kashrut certification if they didn’t make the purchases he demanded.

The national fraud squad, which began its investigation of Yosef in 2012, said yesterday it had gathered enough evidence to pass the case on to the State Prosecutor’s Office.

The police probe against Yosef was announced last July, just as the ultra-Orthodox Shas party was about to announce him as its candidate for sephardi chief rabbi, two weeks before elections for that office.

Avraham Yosef’s attorney, Navot Tel Zur, said in response that “police recommendations” should not be released for publication, because this is an early stage at which the evidence has yet to be fully examined by the police.

He added that Yosef rejected any allegations of wrongdoing.

Amos Biderman