Israel Police Former Fraud Chief Faces Fraud Charges

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Israel Police Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv announces his resignation, February 9, 2014.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

A former head of the Israel Police elite Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit will be charged with fraud, breach of trust and dereliction of duty, pending a hearing. The charges stem from the alleged failure of Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv to report his association with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, including Pinto’s offer of a bribe. Pinto was convicted last year of bribing Police Brig. Gen. Efraim Bracha when Bracha headed Lahav 433.

Arviv will not be charged with bribery.

Arviv was summoned on Thursday for a hearing before the head of the unit in the Justice Ministry that investigates police misconduct, Uri Carmel, following the attorney general’s approval to indict him and a recommendation by the state prosecutor.

Pinto is expected to begin serving a one-year prison sentence on February 16. He received a relatively light sentence after his conviction for bribery and obstruction of justice, following a plea bargain in which he provided the prosecution with the materials that led to Arviv’s indictment.

According to the prosecution, between 2010 and 2013, Arviv failed to report that Pinto had offered him a bribe, and concealed this fact when he was questioned by police about his relationship with Pinto. “In this way, Arviv in fact deliberately refrained from fulfilling his duty by law – the duty to report a bribe offered by a criminal suspect,” the prosecution said in a letter as part of the hearing.

Pinto and Arviv are believed to have first met in 2010. Over the years, Arviv approached Pinto with various requests for help in personal matters and maintained a relationship with Pinto. Their association continued even after Arviv had been apprised of the fact that Pinto was a suspect in an undercover criminal investigation by the national fraud squad over an association he headed. Arviv failed to report his relationship with Pinto to the relevant police officials as required.

It is suspected that in one of their meetings, Pinto offered Arviv $60,000 to ask investigators, including the head of the Investigations and Intelligence Branch, not to continue the probe of the case in which Pinto was involved, and it was at this point that Arviv should have reported the alleged bribery attempt as he was bound by law to do.

Pinto made a similar offer to Bracha, who, as opposed to Arviv, did report the bribe, as a result of which Pinto was convicted of giving a bribe as part of a plea bargain.

According to the prosecution, even after Pinto’s bribe to Bracha was made public, Arviv still did not report that he, too, had been offered a bribe by the rabbi. “Arviv’s failure becomes even more significant because this was a matter of revealing a criminal offense, which, if it had been reported, could have assisted in the police investigation at that time of Pinto’s offer of a bribe to Bracha.”

Pinto is considered one of Israel’s wealthiest rabbis. The great-grandson of a famous Moroccan-born mystic known as the Baba Sali, he amassed his fortune while serving as spiritual guru to the rich and powerful in Israel, New York and elsewhere.

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