Wiretaps Reveal Appel Promised Clout in Bezeq Sale

Transcripts of wiretaps submitted as part of a criminal trial show that businessman David Appel promised to use his connections with politicians to help two other businessmen obtain a license to purchase shares in Bezeq.

The defendants in the trial, which is taking place in the Tel Aviv District Court, are businessmen Gad Zeevi and Michael Chernoy. They are charged with acquiring their stake in the domestic telecommunications behemoth fraudulently.

As part of the investigation, police bugged Chernoy's office, and overheard a meeting on December 8, 2000 between Appel, Chernoy and Chernoy's local business manager, Ze'ev Rom.

Chernoy told Appel that he wanted to buy 5 percent of Bezeq, which was then state-owned, but gradually being privatized. Appel responded that he would need a special permit, and that he had no chance of getting it before the special prime ministerial election slated to take place two months later, in which Ariel Sharon was running against Ehud Barak.

However, Appel continued, "we're going to take these elections. Believe me, everything will look different [after that]."

Chernoy, puzzled, asked: "But what about the permit?" Rom responded: "A permit also means the government. Our people will be in there ... It will be our government, and then it will be different; we'll know who is there." Appel assured Chernoy that after the election, "we'll get it [the permit]. We'll need time, that's all."

Later, Appel moved on to another topic: Moshe Mizrahi, then head of the police's international investigations department, who was in charge of the undercover investigations being conducted against all three men.

"We're doing a cosmetic job on Mizrahi," Appel declared. "We're doing a few things to him, to change him. So he will be a different person."