French police suspect two Jewish French nationals, one of whom with ties to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of bribing prison guards in exchange for special treatment for themselves and a group of other Jewish inmates, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday.
One of the men, Arnaud Mimran, was convicted in 2016 in a massive carbon-tax fraud. In the course of the investigation, Mimran claimed he donated $200,000 to Netanyahu for the prime minister’s 2009 election campaign. Netanyahu, however, said the only money he ever received from the French businessman was a $40,000 donation in 2001.
Mimran and the other French national, Eric Robic, are among seven men reportedly suspected in the bribery affair, including three guards, an outside liaison and the prison rabbi. Police found cellphones and large quantities of cash in the cell shared by Mimran and Robic. A search of the other suspects' homes revealed a stash of thousands of euros.
The investigation began a year ago, the report says, when the prison's complaints commissioner received a claim that Jewish inmates had better living conditions. The probe led to a prison wing commander and two guards who allegedly accepted money in exchange for bestowing benefits upon several Jewish prisoners. Among the graces given by the guards were cellphones and expediting hearings before parole boards.
The fourth suspect in the case is Fabrice Touil, who according to the report acted as a liaison between the inmates and the guards. Large sums of money were found in the house of Touil, who is charged with tax fraud allegations similar to those Mimran was convicted of.
The last suspect is the rabbi of the Paris metropolitan area, who also acts as the prison rabbi. He is accused of acting as the “mule” who transfered the funds from the inmates to the guards. According to the Yedioth report, the money was laundered through a Jewish cultural foundation.
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Eric Robic is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Fresnes related to the death of 25-year-old Israeli Lee Zeitouni. In September 2011, while on vacation in Tel Aviv, Robic accidently hit and killed Zeitouni with his car. He drove on, and by the time the vehicle was found, he had fled back to France. In 2013 he was indicted for manslaughter, as well as failure to render assistance and fleeing the scene of an accident.