Israel's Labor Minister to Face Charges for Bribery, Fraud and Breach of Trust

Haim Katz is suspected of engaging in a quid-pro-quo relationship with Mordechai Ben-Ari, a financial adviser to Equital, a company owned by businessman Koby Maimon

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

Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz will be charged with bribery, aggravated fraud and breach of trust pending a hearing, the State Prosecutor’s Office announced Thursday.

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Katz is suspected of accepting a bribe from Mordechai Ben-Ari — a financial adviser to Equital, a company owned by businessman Koby Maimon. In a quid pro quo relationship that allegedly developed between Katz and Ben-Ari from 2010 to 2015, Ben-Ari is said to have advised Katz on his investment portfolio and manage it for free. Ben-Ari allegedly recommended that Katz buy stock in an Equital subsidiary using information obtained through Ben-Ari’s position in the company.

“Katz and Ben-Ari coordinated business dealings on the bourse in a manner by which Minister Katz was able to derive considerable economic benefit. Ben-Ari’s expertise and major involvement in the management of Minister Katz’s investment portfolio earned Katz millions of shekels. In addition, when Katz was appointed minister, he opened a trust account which was managed by Ben-Ari,” the prosecution said.

In return for Ben-Ari’s alleged financial services, Katz is suspected of acting to pass a bill at Ben-Ari’s request, intended to benefit him and Equital. Katz held meetings of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on the bill, which Ben-Ari wrote, and invited Ben-Ari to speak as an expert, concealing Ben-Ari’s interest in the matter.