Coalition Whip David Bitan Tried to Advance Crony's Interests, Investigation Suggests

Bitan allegedly attempted to advance the construction of the home of a businessman who stands at the center of a different corruption probe

Former coalition whip, Likud MK and suspect of fraud, money laundering and breach of trust, David Bitan.
Ilan Assayag

Likud coalition whip David Bitan allegedly tried to intervene with regional council leaders in order advance the construction of the home of businessman Moshe Yosef, the main suspect in the corruption case in Rishon Letzion.

Yosef, a Likud activist who is close to Bitan, is suspected of bribing a number of public figures. He is very friendly with many of the suspects, mainly Bitan himself, and a family member is employed by Bitan.

Yosef is building a home in Mishmar Hashiva but has had problems with the regional council. The police suspect Bitan asked several council heads to help Yosef. One of them is suspected of fraud and breach of trust but has denied involvement. Yosef has been questioned recently about the source of his funds for building a home and financing his lifestyle.

It emerged on Thursday that the police have been wiretapping many of the suspects since late 2016, particularly Yosef and other senior municipal officials. Adnan Jarushi is suspected of bribing Bitan, and Husam Jarushi is suspected of paying Bitan’s debts to the gray market.

Both admitted they were close to Yosef. Another suspect who allegedly helped pay Bitan’s debts is Gal Yosef, a former senior member of the Ramat Amidar gang. In return, Bitan helped the Jarushis get a contract for earthworks in the Mit’ham 1000 real estate project through contractor Benny Uziel, another suspect. Mayor Dov Tzur’s involvement didn’t come up in the investigation of the Jarushis.

Gal Yosef’s name also came up in investigations of other bribery suspects. Husam Jarushi confirmed that he knows Yosef from childhood but denied that the two covered Bitan’s debts, and said that he has no financial dealings in Israel and spends most of the year in South Africa, where he’s involved in gold mines. Yosef was questioned this week on suspicion of money laundering, and was shown checks from David Bitan that he received about eight years ago. Bitan is suspected of borrowing money from Yosef, and Haaretz published a document proving that Bitan himself took a loan in 2008 together with Yosef for tens of thousands of shekels.

The police have confronted suspects with wiretaps from the past year, including conversations of Bitan himself. Another suspect was confronted with suspicious conversations with Bitan and photos of him with Bitan at the regular Friday powwow they held at a gas station belonging to another suspect, Shefi Sasson, who is also under house arrest.

Sasson denied he had paid for overseas flights for Bitan or his associates or had given Bitan cash. The suspects were asked to explain what they talked about at their meetings and whether they asked Bitan to advance issues related to them. Associates of Deputy Mayor Eyal Moshayev said he allegedly advanced projects of Bitan’s associates in order to become close to Bitan.

Jarushi’s attorneys said they weren’t surprised at the release of Hussam and Adnan and claimed that they had said all along that the suspicions were baseless. Sasson’s attorney Ziva Agami said that her client had cooperated with the investigators and was released to his home under restricted conditions. She added that it will be proven that he has no connection to the suspicions against him.