Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed former Labor party leader Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer’s lawyers today that he has decided to issue an indictment against him. Ben-Eliezer will be charged with five counts of bribery, money laundering, fraud, breach of trust and tax evasion. The decision was made on the recommendation of State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and Tel Aviv District Attorney Liat Ben-Ari. Five more suspects in the affair were also informed that they will be indicted soon.
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The charges relate to the period of 2007-2014 when Ben-Eliezer served as a Labor MK and minister. He is suspected of having received money from a number of businesspeople to use his position to their advantage, and of having used this money to buy real estate. He is also suspected of concealing and not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign currency, which he kept in cash in safes at his home and in the bank.
Ben-Eliezer is also suspected of giving false testimony to the Knesset speaker by not reporting accurately on his income and assets, and of not properly reporting taxable income that derived from his standing as a high-ranking public official.
Sources close to the investigation say that during the preliminary hearings, Ben-Eliezer was ready to admit to the tax evasion charges but not the bribery charges. He also presented the attorney general with several expert medical opinions on the state of his health, given the possibility that he could face a lengthy legal proceeding.
In the wake of the attorney general’s decision, Ben-Eliezer’s attorney said: “We have full trust in the courts. Despite Fuad’s poor health, he intends to fight for his good name. We hope and believe that in court not a trace will remain of the charge sheet and Fuad’s name will be cleared of any trace of impropriety, as he deserves after 60 years of contribution and service to the state and its citizens.”