Yishai Crony Released to House Arrest in Graft Case

Interior Ministry Director General Gabi Maimon, who was arrested on suspicion of corruption on Monday, was released to house arrest yesterday and will remain there until Friday.

Maimon, a close associate of Interior Minister Eli Yishai, is suspected of purchasing two lots in Yad Binyamin worth hundreds of thousands of shekels in violation of the terms of the tender.

Gabi Maimon, Moti Kimche
Moti Kimche

The Israel Lands Administration had reserved the lots for either people evacuated from the Gaza Strip settlements in 2005 or people already living in Yad Binyamin, a religious community near Nahal Soreq, who wanted to build a house of their own. Maimon allegedly got around this requirement by using two middlemen who met the tender's terms. They resold the properties to him just weeks after having bought them.

Maimon's lawyer, Pnina Guy, denied yesterday that he had any prior agreement with the alleged middlemen. She said he bought the plots legally from the legal buyers, who opted to resell them - at a price 25 percent higher than what they originally paid.

Maimon is suspected of fraud, forgery and money-laundering. However, none of the allegations relate to his work in the Interior Ministry.

Police also suspect that Maimon collaborated with businessman Ofer Guetta on this venture. Together, the two allegedly bought five plots worth about NIS 1.5 million.

Altogether, about 10 suspects have been questioned under caution in the affair. Two were remanded until yesterday evening: Eli Eskozido, who heads the Nahal Soreq Regional Council, and Moshe Zvi Friedman, one of the alleged middlemen.

Police believe they already have enough evidence against the suspects, and therefore did not not seek lengthy detentions for any of them.