The Israel Police has announced it has concluded its investigation against Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, his brother Shlomo, and other suspects in the case; an investigation conducted in coordination with the Israel Tax Authority. The case was opened with the involved persons facing suspicion of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, perjury in official statements, tax offenses, and money laundering.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there is an “evidentiary basis” that Aryeh Deri committed fraud and breach of trust, as well as millions of shekels in tax offenses and money laundering, and the disruption of court proceedings.
Deri was previously sentenced to three years in prison for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in 2000 during his previous stint as interior minister in the 1990s. He served 22 months in prison but made a political comeback and retook the reins of the Shas party in 2013.
Police explain, “The suspicions required a thorough, complex and strenuous investigation carried out by the National Fraud Investigation Unit at Lahav 433 of the Israel Police by a joint investigation team with the Tax Authority – the Tel Aviv District Assessments Officer and was accompanied by a team of attorneys from the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office”.
The case began with a covert investigation initiated by the National Fraud Investigation Unit in Lahav 433 with the assistance of the Prohibition of Money Laundering Authority in 2015, which allegedly raised irregularities in bank accounts related to Aryeh Deri and his family, and pointed to significant sums of money transferred from businessmen to the Deri family, some prior to his return to the political arena and others after his return to the Knesset.
In April 2016, an open investigation was launched into the affair, during which various interrogation activities were carried out, dozens of people were interrogated, and in May 2017 another stage of the investigation began, under which Minister Aryeh Deri was questioned.
The investigation dealt with financial transfers in amounts of hundreds of thousands of shekels, which were transferred to Minister Deri from various business people, as well as the nature of the payments, the manner of reporting them; In transactions for the sale of plots owned by Deri in Har Shmuel and Givat Shaul; The purchase of a plot in Safsofa; Statements by the Minister to the Speaker of the Knesset and the State Comptroller, missing reports in capital declarations to the tax authorities, and more.
Despite the fact that Minister Deri was explicitly requested not to speak with one of the parties concerned about the issues that were investigated and warned against tampering with evidence, he immediately approached him at the conclusion of his interrogation and discussed the contents of the matter and his expected testimony with the police.
The findings of the investigation established an evidentiary basis against Deri to commit fraud and breach of trust with respect to his conduct in the matter of a businessman while serving as a minister, as well as for the commission of tax offenses in significant amounts of millions of shekels, money laundering, disruption of court proceedings, and submitting false financial statements to the State Comptroller and Knesset Speaker regarding his assets and income.
An evidentiary basis was also established against attorney Shlomo Deri, who is currently the deputy chairman of KKL-JNF, for the purpose of committing tax offenses in significant sums of millions of shekels, as well as suspicion of money laundering offenses and tax offenses against other suspects.
The investigation into the additional suspicions that have been investigated has not yet been completed, but this is a separate case in which the material gathered was not based on evidence against Deri, and therefore it was decided not to delay the transfer of the case in which the suspicions were investigated.
The investigation file will be transferred to the State Prosecutor’s Office in the coming days.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri’s office said in response: We welcome the conclusion of the police investigation that lasted almost three years. We received the shelving of the serious suspicions of receiving bribes, stealing from associations and others with satisfaction, which at the time led to the opening of the investigation. We believe that when the State Prosecutor’s Office is required to do so, and it will remove the remainder of the suspicions as it will become clear that Minister Aryeh Deri did not break the law.
Statement from the Movement for Quality Government: “The State of Israel is the only country in the world, except for India, where a minister convicted of a criminal offense has returned to the minister’s seat, in such an atmosphere of lawlessness and corruption a culture of corruption and unacceptable norms develops, and the police recommendations relate not only to the alleged crimes of Deri, as well as the most serious attempts to disrupt the investigation, ostensibly, by him.
“It is precisely at this time, with more and more talk being heard in the background about elections coming soon, that we call upon the State Attorney not to drag out the handling of this important investigation and to exhaust the relevant examinations as quickly as possible”.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)