Likud lawmaker David Bitan, a confidant of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is set to be indicted for accepting a bribe of 715,000 shekels (about $218,000), fraud, breach of trust and money laundering in seven different cases, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced on Tuesday.
A copy of the indictment has been submitted with the Knesset speaker, starting a countdown of 30 days in which Bitan may ask the parliament to grant him immunity.
According to the attorney general’s Tuesday statement, “between 2011 and 2017, Bitan received benefits from a number of contractors and stakeholders at a total sum of hundreds of thousands of shekels. In exchange for these benefits, Bitan worked to promote their interests in the public offices he held, while using his position, contacts and influence in local and national government.”
The investigation found that Bitan received bribes from several businesspeople, in most cases through a friend – now one of the prosecution’s two key witnesses – and in return promoted their interests at the Rishon Letzion and Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipalities and at government offices. Most charges concern his time as a Knesset member.
A contractor who allegedly offered Bitan bribes is also expected to be a key witness should the trial move forward.
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Mendelblit informed Bitan a year and a half ago of his intention to file the indictments against him, pending a hearing. The hearing was held in September, and several weeks ago it was reported that Mendelblit had made a decision in the Bitan cases.
The lawyers representing Bitan, Dror Matatyahu, Sharon Kohane and Ephraim Dimri, said in response that should he stand trial, he would present his argument to the court. The Knesset member “is confident it will be ruled that there was nothing flawed in his actions, and that his name will be cleared.”