Former Officials From Lieberman's Party Convicted of Bribery, Fraud

Indictment says Yisrael Beiteinu accommodated a system that helped various entities seeking governmental funding and donations. In return, they were required to give kickbacks to Faina Kirschenbaum and other party officials

Gur Megiddo
Gur Megiddo
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Faina Kirschenbaum, former deputy Interior Minister and Rami Cohen, former director general of the Agriculture Ministry, in court in Tel Aviv, in 2017.
Faina Kirschenbaum, former deputy Interior Minister and Rami Cohen, former director general of the Agriculture Ministry, in court in Tel Aviv, in 2017.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Gur Megiddo
Gur Megiddo

Faina Kirschenbaum, former deputy Interior Minister and member of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, was convicted of bribery and fraud by the Tel Aviv District court said on Thursday.

The court also convicted  the former director general of the Agriculture Ministry, Rami Cohen, of bribery.

Kirschenbaum was convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for allocating governmental funds.

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In 2017, after three years of investigations, Kirschenbaum was charged with multiple bribery offences as well as fraud and breach of trust.

Yisrael Beiteinu accommodated a system that helped various entities seeking governmental funding and donations. In return, they were required to give kickbacks to Kirschenbaum and other party officials, the indictment said.

Judge Yaron Levy stated that Kirschenbaum, who was then the secretary general of Yisrael Beiteinu, had "abused her political power."

Kirschenbaum has used a devious and sophisticated method "for personal, familial and party use,” he added.

In one of the cases, Kirschenbaum was convicted of aiding Shomron's regional council mayor to raise 3.5 million shekels ($1 million) for which she demanded that 1.5 million shekels ($450,000) will be allocated for Yisrael Beiteinu's use.

The fees, charged by Kirschenbaum, were collected using several methods, such as buying flight tickets for her and her family, financing PR consultancy for her personal use, and hiring her children for fictitious jobs.

Some of the money was also used to back Yisrael Beiteinu's political activity, which included the funding of a Russian speaking news website loyal to the party, as well as paying for some of the party expenses.

Levy also convicted the former director general of the Agriculture Ministry, Rami Cohen, for receiving hundreds of thousands of shekels on Kirschenbaum’s behalf as part of the bribery affair.

"[Cohen] exploited his relations with [Kirschenbaum] to gain personal wealth,” said the judge.

Cohen, who was charged in three cases, recived money for Kirschenbaum and had close ties with party chairman Avigdor Lieberman.

In one of his fraud cases, he was convicted of faking pay slips to charge hundreds of thousands of shekels form the regional council of Lachish through a consultancy company owned by his wife.

In 2011, Cohen served as an adviser to the then Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov of Yisrael Beiteinu. Cohen attempted to solicit 100,000 shekels ($30,000) for obtaining funding for a tourism site.

Over 100 suspects were questioned and 19 indictments were filed – of which 15 ended in plea bargains, most of which did not include prison time for defendants, in the 2011 affair, known as Case 242 – or the Yisrael Beiteinu case.

Judge Yaron Levy of the Tel Aviv District Court also acquitted Kirschenbaum of a small number of the charges against Kirschenbaum.

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