Ex-Ashdod Port Union Strongman Indicted for Bribery, Extortion and Money Laundering

Five others were charged along with Alon Hassan, who has long been a symbol of what critics call the inefficiency and corruption at Israel's state-owned ports.

Moti Milrod

Eighteen months after a wave of arrests at Ashdod Port, the government on Sunday filed indictments against Alon Hassan, the once powerful port union boss, and five others.

The indictment accuses Hassan of a long list of offenses, including taking bribes, soliciting bribes, fraud and breach of trust by a public servant and by a corporation, extortion, conspiracy, fraud under aggravated circumstances and breach of trust, money laundering and tax fraud.

Prosecutors also asked the court to impound a long list of assets controlled by Hassan, including a private home in Ashdod, land he owns near the town of Gan Yavneh, two apartments in the Ashdod Beach Hotel as well as an Audi Q7 jeep and Mercedes CLK320, the latter registered in his wife’s name and three trucks belonging to moving companies registered in his name.

Hassan has long been a symbol of what critics said is inefficiency and corruption at Israel’s two big state-owned but union-dominated ports in Ashdod and Haifa. In a bid to insert more competition into the sector and break the union’s power, the government has awarded concessions to operate private ports in the two cities.

“The indictment is an important milestone for collaboration by enforcement agencies to eradicate the corruption that has spread in the Port of Ashdod, and contains a message about the standard of conduct expected of government employees and civil servants everywhere,” the State Prosecutors Office said.

Ilan Assayag

The indictment covers the years 2010-13 when Hassan is alleged to have abused his position as head of the port’s workers’ committee to win waste removal contracts from the biggest users of the port for Dana Port Services & Logistics, a company that was controlled by families and close associates of Hassan’s.

The other five indicated included Shuki Sagis, a former CEO of Ashdod Port Company, who is accused of fraud and breach of trust by a public sector employee and fraud under aggravated circumstances. Others named were David Hassan, who is Alon’s cousin, as well as Yaniv Belter and Uri Belter. Dana Logistics was also indicted.

There was no immediate comment from Hassan’s attorneys, but Dror Matatyahu and Loik Wasil, who represent Sagis rejected the charges

“There is no justification, either evidential or legal, for an indictment against our client, who played the role as CEO of the port without bias and in an appropriate manner, in the circumstances, to the best of his professional experience and understanding,” they said in a statement.

The other two Belters both made plea bargains with state attorneys and agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy to commit a crime (bribery), fraud under aggravated circumstances and breach of trust. Yaniv Belter and Dana Logics admitted to money laundering, tax violations and other charges.

As a result, Yaniv Belter will get 18 months prison, pending approval by the court as well as a suspended sentence, confiscation of 2.9 million shekels ($760,000) of property and financial penalties of 600,000 shekels.

Uri Belter would get six months of community service and pay 500,000 shekels in penalties. His attorneys, who made a plea bargain with prosecutors, termed his role in the alleged offenses minor and said punishment was appropriate for the circumstances.

Under the plea deal, Dana Logics will pay 100,000 shekels in penalties and will have another 600,000 in assets impounded.