A Channel 1 television soccer commentator’s entrance permit to the Knesset was suspended Wednesday, following a report on Channel 2 News that he arranged meetings between clients and senior public officials for a fee of thousands of dollars.
Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein is examining whether to renew former soccer player and current commentator Danny Neuman’s standing entry permit to the building, Knesset sources said. Neuman was issued a standing entry permit by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik in 2006 and it remained in effect until Wednesday.
In response to the first part of the report broadcast on Tuesday, Neuman said he did not break the law. “I both consult and mediate, I see no breach of the law in that. It’s all within the customary norms. I boasted a little and that’s natural, to impress the people I was with. Maybe I was wrong to boast,” he said in an interview with Army Radio Wednesday.
Neuman said he did not meet with Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz as part of his brokerage and said the minister’s name had “slipped” into the report.
“We’ve been friends for many years, but I never met him in his office and never asked him for anything – for myself or for any of my associates or clients,” he said.
The Channel 2 broadcast showed the commentator, photographed by a hidden camera, presenting himself as a broker who can arrange meetings between his clients and senior government officials for a fee. “I’m extremely well connected in several ministries – all the ministers, their advisors and assistants are friends of mine,” he tells the TV researcher who posed as the representative of an international bus company interested in contending for a tender to operate bus routes in Israel.
Neuman said in a telephone conversation that he would charge $5,000 for brokering a meeting between a company official and the Transportation Ministry’s director general. He said he had charged another company $10,000 “for other things I took care of for them regarding importing buses.”
Another researcher met Neuman, posing as a private entrepreneur who wanted the Transportation Ministry to introduce a regulation requiring every car in Israel to install a siren and emergency lights. Neuman set the meeting up and told the researcher: “Meet me and you’ll meet a senior ministry official and everything will be okay.”
At a later meeting he said “for this kind of thing I charge $5,000 plus VAT. I won’t charge you 5,000 because you want me to accompany you in the next stages too. When we have the meeting, $2,500 plus VAT, and accompaniment until the sales begin,” he said.