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.
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.