Police on Tuesday 11 Adar I 5774 informed Rabbi Avraham Yisrael, a close associate of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, that he is going to be indicted, the daily Haaretz reports. Yisrael established the Chazon Yeshaya non-profit in 1998 and is very close to Rabbi Pinto. The indictment against him will include charges of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, obstruction of justice and falsifying corporate records. Rabbi Yisrael will be granted a pre-indictment hearing, a final opportunity to persuade police of his innocence. If police are not persuaded the indictment will follow.
The report states that in 2011 alone, Chazon Yeshaya turned over 40 million NIS as fundraising takes place in Israel and abroad. The report adds some of the charitable funds collected were used to purchase valuable properties worth tens of millions of NIS. The state-appointed liquidator in 2011 learned that of all the funds collected by Chazon Yeshaya; only about 3.6 million NIS went to tzedaka while 33.5 million NIS did not, despite claims to the contrary in the organization’s official papers.
Police feel that much of the tzedaka money went to Pinto’s bank accounts, which led to the rabbi allegedly bribing Police Brigadier-General Ephraim Bracha for information on the investigation. The latter told his superiors and set Rabbi Pinto up as if he was accepting bribe money.
Then next on the rabbi’s list was former head of the Israel Police 433 investigations unit, Menashe Arbiv, who has since resigned amid a possible criminal indictment against him. Pinto has offered authorities information pertaining to alleged bribes involving Arbiv as he continues negotiating for an immunity agreement.
Police have learned that the rabbi’s reported soup kitchens and other charitable enterprises were a scam, covering up for major money laundering of tzedaka monies into private accounts.
Rabbi Pinto continues to maintain his innocence, as does Menashe Arbiv.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)