Former Israeli Judge Arrested in Peru on Corruption Charges

Dan Cohen fled in 2005 to Peru, which has no extradition treaty with Israel, to evade charges of bribe-taking.

Former district court justice Dan Cohen was arrested late Monday in Peru, four years after he fled Israel to evade corruption charges.

The State Prosecution had arranged for Cohen's extradition through its international affairs department, a gag order lifted on Tuesday revealed.

The prosecution had appealed via diplomatic channels to authorities in Peru, which acceded to its request along with court approval following an evaluation of the evidence presented against the former judge.

Peru does not have an extradition treaty with Israel.

Cohen will stand trial for alleged fraud, bribe-taking and breach of investigation procedures once he arrives in Israel.

According to prominent commercial attorneys, the former Be'er Sheva District Court judge fled the country in 2005. He is suspected of taking bribes from the Siemens group while serving as the chairman of the Israel Electric Corporation board's assets committee.

The alleged bribe was paid in 2003-2004 in return for Cohen's aid in advancing the purchase of two turbines manufactured by Siemens - without a tender.

The suspicions were uncovered in an investigation conducted by the investigations department of the Israel Securities Authority (ISA). The investigation is considered one of the most complicated and complex ever conducted by the ISA and has been underway for over two years.

The IEC investigation started as part of another affair in 2003. ISA investigators gathered information against Cohen in another matter, which revealed the suspected payments from Siemens. It seems that in order to hide the money, Cohen constructed a complicated web of companies and accounts in various countries, some of which are known as tax havens - and included the use of various intermediaries and straw-men. The ISA's investigation discovered these accounts - and led to the revelations.

In 2002 the IEC bought three gas turbines from Siemens after the firm won a tender. In 2003-2004 the IEC purchased another two units from Siemens without a tender. The explanation for the purchase without a tender - as presented to the board - was "the urgency to prevent serious damage." The purchase was presented as a business opportunity, as having the advantage of buying identical units to those already purchased.

Each turbine cost about 100 million euros.

As of today, the IEC has installed only three of the five turbines. The other two are in storage in the company's warehouses in Haifa, since the IEC only recently started the approval process for their installation.

Also, it is still not clear when the natural gas to run the turbines will reach Haifa, therefore, the financing costs and lost warranties on the turbines are valued as costing the IEC tens of millions of dollars a year. So despite the lack of permits and the doubts about the availability of natural gas, the board and management still approved the purchase of the two extra units.

Cohen served not only as chairman of the assets committee, but also was a member of the tenders committee for nine years, until just before the approval of the deal.