Yes TV Employee Suspected of Giant Embezzlement

Police suspect employee of satellite TV provider embezzled almost $7 million over a period of 10 years.

An employee of satellite television service provider Yes was arrested last week on suspicion of involvement in an embezzlement scheme involving tens of millions of shekels.

Although some of the details of the case are subject to a gag order, the woman in detention, who has been employed at Yes for 13 years, is suspected of carrying out the scheme over a period of about 10 years, through a series of fictitious suppliers to whom Yes made payments. The police said the woman is suspected of embezzling 24 million shekels ($6.8 million), but the company said the actual amount is not yet known since the investigation is in its early stages.

Initial suspicions in the case surfaced last Wednesday, when the 38-year-old suspect – a Herzliya resident who had been working as a relatively junior employee in the comptroller’s office of the company – presented a supervisor with a check to be signed. The request is said to have sparked the supervisor’s suspicions and prompted further questioning of the employee. At that point, the suspect was said to have asked to leave work immediately due to a personal problem. She did not return to work on Thursday, at which point Yes decided to launch its own internal investigation with the help of private investigators.

The suspect’s office computer was examined and purportedly led company officials to believe that the woman had been involved in an embezzlement scheme of huge proportions. Yes officials lodged a complaint with the police on Thursday evening, and on Friday the suspect was arrested and a computer at her home impounded. A Petah Tikva magistrate’s court judge ordered her to remain in custody for another five days.

The suspect’s lawyer, Benny Katz, questioned whether the company was seeking to make his client a scapegoat. “How could years go by and no one noticed this?” Katz asked in court. He also took the police to task for what he called their hasty action against his client in placing her under arrest just one day after her employer filed its complaint. His client, Katz noted, has no criminal record and is the mother of three children, and had only returned from maternity leave three months ago.

Judge Smadar Abramovitch-Kollende said “a review of the investigative file shows there is an evidentiary foundation linking the suspect to what she is accused of, and reasonable suspicion exists.”

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Ofer Vaknin