It has been about six months since Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto and his rebitzen were questioned by police in what was reported to be a major fraud embezzlement investigation.
Among the allegations against Pinto is that he attempted to bribe senior Israel Police official Ephraim Bracha, who the rav knows personally, asking him to intervene in the ongoing investigation on his behalf. Police explained in October 2012 that Bracha was a follower of Pinto who often sought his advice, and the two maintained a close relationship.
Not too long after being questioned numerous times, Rabbi Pinto requested permission to leave the country, and it was granted. It is now reported that Israel Police will be questioning him in the United States regarding the allegations involving Major-General Bracha. Bracha told his superiors that the rav and his wife gave him a suitcase containing $200,000 in exchange for information on the investigation surrounding a tzedaka fund run by the Pintos.
However, Rabbi Pinto has a different version. During his questioning the rav claims to have been the victim of extortion, instructed to bring money, insisting he did not do so on his own. He told investigators that while in the USA, he updated FBI agents and an Israel Police representative that he is being targeted by an extortionist and that he is compelled to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop the police action against him.
As a result of his new allegations, Israel Police has contacted the FBI in an effort to verify some of the facts in the case. It appears an unofficial exchange of information is taking place as investigators in both Israel and America continue the case against Pinto. In addition, Israeli officials have given the order to question Pinto in the USA and to obtain statements from him attesting to his version of the events.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)