Likud Lawmaker, Granted Immunity in Fraud Case, Questioned Over Tax Offenses

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Haim Katz at his hearing before the Knesset House Committee
Likud Knesset member Haim Katz at his hearing before the Knesset House Committee on his immunity request, Feb. 4, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

Likud lawmaker and former Labor Minister Haim Katz was investigated on Thursday by the Israel Tax Authority for suspected tax offenses related to the purchase of several houses he owns.

The investigation was first reported last year, but only last week did Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit approve questioning Katz as a suspect in the case. Katz’s questioning was first reported by Kan public broadcaster.

Katz was accused of fraud and breach of trust in a separate case, but in February he was granted immunity by the Knesset. In 2010, held bonds in several companies experiencing difficulties, Katz promoted a bill that would give priority for repayment to those holding bonds in an insolvent company. He also allegedly misled both the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, which he chaired at the time, and the Ethics Committee about his conflict of interest.

Katz is set to once more lead the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee with the swearing-in of Israel’s new government.

He said in response that a “joint investigation” launched against him in 2017 by several law enforcement agencies – which led to the charges announced by Mendleblit in August – “has ended,” adding that now, “the Tax Authority is investigating me for something that no citizen would have been investigated for… This [case] will be closed, too.”

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