Communications Ministry Director Filber Ordered Away From Job Two More Weeks

Judge forbids Shlomo Filber from having any contact with workers in communications or justice ministries or from Bezeq, Yes and Halal

Shlomo Filber at the Knesset.
Emil Salman

A court has suspended the ousted director general of the Communications Ministry, Shlomo Filber, from entering the ministry for another two weeks, until the Civil Service Commission decides on his temporary suspension.

Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, also ruled that Filber should not have any contact with employees of the Communications Ministry, Justice Ministry, Bezeq-Yes or Halal Communications.

Filber has been under house arrest at his Petah Tikva home the past two weeks on suspicion of fraud, breach of trust and securities violations in his relationship with Bezeq. The Israel Securities Authority asserts that it has amassed evidence indicating that he used his position fraudulently to advance Bezeq’s interests in the Communications Ministry. Findings from the investigation raise suspicions that Filber acted methodically, intentionally and consistently to provide Bezeq confidential documents, internal position papers, correspondences and documents from internal discussions.

During the court hearing on Wednesday, the authority’s representative, Eran Shacham-Shavit, asked the court to order Filber to stay away from the ministry another 90 days, but Filber’s lawyer noted that he was notified on Tuesday that he would have a hearing with the Civil Service Commission on his suspension within five days.

“Filber respects the commission’s position. He understands he won’t be able to return to his job for the next two to three months,” said his attorney, Yuval Nahmani. “It is not healthy for the Communications Ministry. It will create a burden, and out of respect for the civil service, he understands that he has to respect the decision on his temporary suspension and to address the matter in a discussion with the commission.”

Nahmani said Filber would retain his rights as a worker if suspended by the Civil Service Commission.

“Filbert can’t deal at all with ministry matters. He is prevented from approaching the ministry,” said Nahmani. “His authority is frozen, and his job is frozen.” He added there is no indication of a fear of obstruction of justice, and that Filber has no reason to be in touch with ministry employees.

Shacham-Shavit retorted, “The rationale for suspension is different from the rationale of our request to distance him from the Communications Ministry.”

On Wednesday, the court permitted the publication of the name of Filber’s assistant, Adi Kahan-Gonen, as a suspect for fraud and breach of trust as well as securities violations. She was banned from having any contact with Communications Ministry employees who are engaged in regulation of telephony, satellites and television or matters related to Bezeq-Yes or Halal. She is also banned from dealing with matters related to the Eurocom Group, Bezeq or Halal, or from contacting anyone involved in the investigation, including Justice Ministry workers. She is also not allowed access to computer files related to the Communications Ministry investigation.

“Filber provided in the investigation all the details that clarify all his work related to his authority and duties as Communications Ministry director general to move forward the communications market for the benefit of competition and consumers,” his lawyers stated. “No new substantial issues were raised in the investigation that weren’t already published in the press. Filber explained at length ministry policy and his policy as director general. He provide mainly details the investigators did not know of. Filber is convinced that the completion of the investigation will make it clear that there was nothing criminal in his actions. Mr. Filber intends to cooperate with the commission in setting his temporary suspension out of respect for the civil service and his desire not to disrupt the work of the Communications Ministry.”

Kahan-Gonen’s attorney, Gil Eshet, commented: “Kahan-Gonen is a professional, admired and outstanding civil servant with 15 years of experience. She denies the suspicions, insists on her innocence and asserts that she always acted on behalf of the public interest and for the benefit of the Communications Ministry and its leaders. She was not suspended and was not put under house arrest, but rather was released on the most modest conditions, among them moving to a different job, with our agreement, for an interim period until the investigation is complete.”