Former top officials in Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party will be charged with corruption, the State Prosecutor's office said on Monday. Former Minister Stas Misezhnikov and former Deputy Minister Faina Kirschenbaum are among the 16 suspects slated to be indicted, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitzan said.
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Both Misezhnikov and Kirschenbaum will be summoned for a hearing, after which they are expected to be formally charged, the statement said. The economic department of the State Attorney’s Office has notified 14 other suspects that it is considering prosecuting them as well. Further summonses are pending, with a decision not yet reached in some of the cases.
Stas Misezhnikov, a former tourism minister, is expected to be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust and with possession and use of a dangerous substance, as well as obstruction of justice.
Faina Kirschenbaum, a former deputy minister at the Interior Ministry and the former general secretary of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, is expected to be charged with bribery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and tax evasion.
Misezhnikov, while in office, is suspected of giving one million shekels ($250,000) for a students’ festival in Eilat and asking organizers to employ his partner. They are said to have complied, paying her tens of thousands of shekels. He is also charged with sending one of his advisers to purchase cocaine for himself on several occasions while he was serving as tourism minister, and of using the drug during official events in Israel and abroad.
Money allegedly went in part to members of Yisrael Beiteinu who directed the allocation of the funds. Entities including local governments, the Anti-Drug Authority, the Ezra and Ayalim NGOs, as well as other agencies, were allegedly ordered to allocate set portions of budgets they received for purposes determined by Yisrael Beiteinu members. This included the purchase of services for party purposes or for real or fictitious employment of people close to the party by these agencies. Some of the funds purportedly financed private trips by Kirschenbaum and her family members, and others went for purchasing electric and electronic devices which were bought by these agencies and later found in Kirschenbaum’s home.
Others who received summonses were David Godovsky, who headed the organizational department of the party; Rami Cohen, a former director general of the Agriculture Ministry; Dov Litvinoff, the head of the Tamar Regional Council; lobbyist Yisrael Yehoshua; Matan Dahan, the head of the Ayalim NGO; and Danny Glicksberg, the deputy head of the NGO. Further summonses were sent to Victoria Rabin, a former parliamentary aide to Kirschenbaum, to media adviser Ronen Moshe, to Irena Woldenberg, the head of the Entrepreneurs Organization, and to five other suspects.
The violations attributed to these suspects took place between 2009 and 2014, according to the State Attorney’s office. Some of the alleged illegal activity is said to have only stopped when the investigation became public knowledge in December 2014. Material was handed over by the police to the State Attorney’s office in October 2015, and its investigations department completed further investigations two weeks ago. The team of attorneys dealing with these cases delivered its recommendations and list of suspected violations for approval by the Attorney General and the State Attorney.