The former senior official on the National Security Council detained for questioning earlier this week on suspicion of taking bribes is Avriel Bar-Yosef, who served as the deputy head of the organization until 2015.
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In February 2016, he was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the role of NSC head and national security adviser, but in June Bar-Yosef announced that he would forgo the offer.
On Tuesday, police detained Bar-Yosef for questioning on suspicion of taking bribes, money laundering, fraud and breach of trust. He is suspected of having personal and business ties with a German businessman in the field of natural gas exports while serving as a member of a steering committee on Israel's policy on gas exports. Bar-Yosef is suspected of working to advance the interests of the businessman, who resides outside of Israel, in return for favors, all in his official capacity.
Another suspect was also detained, and a search was carried out in the two's homes. On Tuesday, following a 12-hour interrogation, Bar-Yosef was released to a five-day house arrest.
Police suspect that between 2011 and 2013 Bar-Yosef traveled a number of times to Germany and Portugal at the expense of German businessman Michael Herzog, who wanted to purchase floating liquefaction facilities and set them up along the Israeli shoreline. At the natural gas steering committee, Bar-Yosef was the dominant voice in support of establishing such facilities.
Police estimate that the businessman turned to Bar-Yosef because of the latter's extensive experience acquired in the navy, where he served many years, reaching the rank of brigadier-general. Bar-Yosef is also well-connected to other senior officials who served in the navy and to the prime minister's associates.
Between 2004 and 2009, Bar-Yosef was director of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He served for 25 years in the IDF, where his last posting was as head of the Israel Navy's equipment branch.
Police believe that the official, his wife and his son made frequent trips abroad in the businessman’s private plane. The businessman also paid for their stays at luxury hotels, regaled them at fine restaurants and gave them expensive gifts, all while the official was on the NSC, police said.
The German Bild newspaper has reported that the businessman faced a 100-million euro fraud trial in 2013, together with another two German nationals. The names of former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush were brought up as defense witnesses who were meant to take part at the trial. When confronted in the past with claims regarding his ties to Bar-Yosef, Herzog said that he did not grant him favors, and that the case against him in Germany had been closed.