Israeli Minister to Face Last Step Before Indictment for Bribery

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Israel's Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz, February 2018
Israel's Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz, February 2018Credit: Emil Salman

Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz is to undergo a hearing on Sunday prior to being charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

According to the suspicions, starting in 2010 businessman Moti Ben Ari, then financial adviser to the Equital group, started bribing Katz by allegedly giving him investment services and insider information worth millions of shekels. Katz allegedly advanced Equital’s interests as a Knesset member and chairman of the Welfare and Labor Committee. Katz even proposed a bill that was drafted by Ben Ari to advance Equital’s interests. The bill, which addresses debt payments for publicly held companies that cannot pay their bondholders, was voted into law.

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Equital is officially owned by controlling shareholder Haim Tzuf. But many attribute control of the group to businessman Kobi Maimon, a close associate of politicians including Katz.

In exchange, Ben Ari allegedly handled Katz’s investments without charging management fees, while making use of Equital’s insider data. Katz also allegedly opened a bank account that was managed by Ben Ari, while allegedly hiding Ben Ari’s management of it.

Prosecutors announced in May that they intended to charge Ben Ari.

Katz stated in response, “I’m sure that after the hearing process, this surreal case will be closed because it has no factual or legal basis.”

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