Handwritten Records Incriminate Former Finance Minister Hirchson

Money transfers recorded in writing by former National Workers Federation accountant Ronit Garti, and not reported to the federation's bookkeeper, were central to the unraveling of the alleged massive embezzlement of the federation, for which former finance minister Abraham Hirchson stands accused.

A copy of these records, which were obtained by Haaretz, document the transfer of hundreds of thousands of shekels in cash from the federation to Hirchson between December 2003 and April 2005. They are being publicized here for the first time.

The sums transferred to Hirchson are code-marked with an "A" in Garti's records, and include transfers in 2004 of NIS 25,000 on February 8, NIS 27,000 on March 1, and NIS 25,000 on May 6; and in 2005, NIS 15,000 on February 22, NIS 20,000 on March 2, and NIS 35,000 on March 30.

In addition, the records document transfers of thousands of shekels for purchase of medications and to cover fines. According to the Prosecutor's Office, those sums were also transferred to Hirchson. A further sum of NIS 30,000 is recorded under the heading "journey," and according to the prosecution was used to cover Hirchson's overseas travel expenses.

Hirchson is accused of stealing NIS 2.5 million from the National Workers Federation and the Nili association during his tenure as federation chair, from 1998 to 2005. According to the indictment, a total of about NIS 12 million was stolen from the two organizations and distributed among other workers who have been accused in this affair.

In response to the indictment, Hirchson admitted to receiving the money, but claimed it was given to him in exchange for his eligibility for retirement pay when he left the federation.

Garti revealed her records during questioning by the police, and explained the meaning of all the code letters to the interrogators, as well as how the monies were transferred. The prosecution says these records are among the crucial documents in the case, as they recorded the transfers in real time and helped the police understand what happened. The state claims that the records were kept in order to prove to those involved in the embezzlement that funds were transferred to them, in case those persons ever claimed the funds were not received. Without Garti and her documents, the police would probably have difficulty proceeding with the investigation.

Garti's attorneys, Dov Gilad Cohen and Uri Keynan, claim the records were made at the request of those above her, the late Gideon Ben-Tzur, and Yitzhak Ruso, who is among the accused.

In a letter that is also evidence in the case, Garti wrote to Ben-Tzur, "You dared turn me into an accessory, in that I did not reveal things that seemed fishy to me. You told me 'stories,' and now I know how bad they smelled."

Garti was accused as an accessory to falsifying corporate documents, and earlier this month signed a plea bargain that would sentence her to a maximum of six months' community service. At a sentencing hearing in Tel Aviv District Court on Monday, Garti said that if the hands of time could be turned backward, she would not have landed herself in her current situation.

Judge David Rosen criticized the leniency of her punishment and demanded that prosecutor Eli Schwartz admit he was going easy on Garti because he needed her as a witness for the prosecution in Hirchson's trial. Keynan countered that the accepted punishment for the crime for which Garti was convicted is only a suspended sentence. Garti's sentence will be announced on September 28.