Police Recommend Charging Israeli Interior Minister With Fraud, Breach of Trust, Tax Offenses

Police say tax offenses involved millions of shekels ■ Minister Arye Dery previously served 22 months in prison for bribery and fraud

Interior Minister Arye Dery, April, 2018.
Alex Kolomoisky

The Israel Police on Tuesday recommended that Interior Minister Arye Dery be charged with fraud, breach of trust, tax-related offenses, obstruction of justice, perjury and money laundering.

Dery, who is chairman of the Shas party, served as interior minister between 1988 and 1993, under prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yizhak Rabin. He was convicted of bribery and fraud in 2000 and served 22 months in prison. He regained the Shas leadership a decade after his release.

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Initially the police investigated suspicions that the Dery family received hundreds of thousands of shekels from various business figures. A police statement said the probe focused in part on the nature of the payments and how they were reported to the authorities, as well as the sale of lots that Dery owned in the Har Homa and Givat Shaul neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the purchase of a lot at Moshav Kfar Hoshen in the northern Galilee.

The investigation examined declarations made by Dery to the Knesset speaker and the State Comptroller's Office and the Shas leader's alleged failure to declare capital to the Israel Tax Authority, the police statement said.The police allege that Dery spoke with another figure in the case around the end of the investigation even though he had been warned not to do so, and that the two spoke about the substance of the case and the other individual's expected testimony.

Dery's office responded by saying: "We welcome the conclusion of the police investigation, which lasted almost three years. We were satisfied to hear that [police] dropped the serious crimes of receiving bribes and theft from NGOs and others that led to the opening of the case. We believe that when the prosecution looks into it, other suspicions will be dropped and it will become clear that Minister Arye Dery did not violate the law."

Dery's house in Kfar Hoshen (Safsufa), 2016.
Gil Eliyahu

The police statement said that most of the alleged crimes occurred before Dery returned to political life, but that some were committed after he became interior minister in 2015. The police are also recommending that Dery's brother Shlomo be charged.