Police Arrest Four More Suspects in Yisrael Beiteinu Probe

The former and current public figures are suspected of bribery, fraud and money laundering in widening case involving illicit use of coalition funds.

Yasmin Gueta
Jasmin Gueta
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Faina Kirshenbaum (left) at an election conference.
Faina Kirshenbaum (left) at an election conference.Credit: David Bachar
Yasmin Gueta
Jasmin Gueta

Two suspects in a major corruption case centered on the Yisrael Beiteinu party were arrested on Monday for a second time, and two others were arrested for the first time.

The rearrested suspects are Alex Wiznitzer, former CEO of the government roadwork company, Netivei Israel; and lobbyist Yisrael Yehoshua. The other two are Witznitzer’s replacement as CEO, Shai Beres, who recently left the company and had not previously been suspected in the case; and Shaul Mizrahi, chairman of the Local Government Economic Services company.

Police also raided their houses and seized documents and other material.

The Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court remanded Yeshoshua to custody for four days and the other suspects for three days each.

At the remand hearing, a police representative said the arrests stemmed from new developments over the last few days.

AG Weinstein is coordinating the widening corruption investigation as part of what is referred to as Case 242.Credit: Motti Kimchi

But Judge Menahem Mizrahi didn’t buy that. After reviewing the evidence police submitted, he said the only new development was something that happened back in January, and all that had occurred in the last few was “processing the material, making decisions and drawing conclusions.”

Nevertheless, he said, the conclusion reached – that the scope of the bribery allegedly committed in the case is much larger than initially thought – warrants giving the police a few days to pursue their investigation with the suspects in custody.

The case revolves around suspicions that senior civil servants, past and present, transferred large amounts of public money to various organizations and agencies in exchange for bribes in the form of both money and appointments, either for themselves or for friends and relatives. In some cases, the money given these organizations and agencies was for legal projects, but the sum was inflated so that money could be siphoned off. In other cases, the payments were for fictitious projects.

Police believe Yehoshua served as a go-between for many of the other people involved in the case. They also believe some of the money in question was funneled through Netivei Israel under both Wiznitzer and Beres.

Wiznitzer, Beres and Yehoshua are all suspected of bribery, aggravated fraud, breach of trust and money laundering. Mizrahi is currently suspected only of obstructing justice.

The case, considered one of the biggest corruption cases in Israel’s history, came to public attention in December 2014 when police arrested more than 30 suspects. Among them were then-MK Faina Kirshenbaum and former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, both of Yisrael Beiteinu. Both are suspected of taking bribes in exchange for transferring money to various organizations.

Many other suspects are also connected to Yisrael Beiteinu, including David Godovsky, the party’s former chief of staff, and former Agriculture Ministry Director General Rami Cohen.

Several mayors are suspected of paying bribes to the other suspects in order to obtain additional funding for their towns.

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