The Israel Police National Unit along with additional forces on Sunday morning raided several locations and detained more than 20 suspects, among them senior Balad party officials, attorneys and accountants, in connection with suspicion of committing fraud in relation to funds accepted by the party and used in its budget.
Balad, whose name is an Hebrew acronym meaning National Democratic Union, is an Israeli Arab political party led by MK Jamal Zahalka. In 2015, following the raising of the prerequisite threshold for entering the Knesset, Balad, which counts MK Haneen Zoabi among its members, joined the Arab Joint List, which currently has 13 MKs.
The current investigation is being carried out with approval from the AG, according to the recommendations of the State Attorney, in light of findings of the State Comptroller. The police is being aided by the Authority for the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, as well as by the Ministry of Finance Inspection Unit on Currency Service Providers.
The findings of the State Comptroller and a police covert investigation have given rise to the suspicion that Balad senior officials and activists, in collusion with several attorneys and accountants, have been running a systematic operation misrepresenting the source of millions of dollars contributed to the party coffers. According to police allegations, the funds, which were reported as coming from party members inside Israel, were, in effect, contributed illegally from abroad.
The detainees are facing allegations of aggravated fraud, falsifying corporate documents, forgery, use of forged documents, money laundering, and violations of the party funding law and the local municipalities law.
Police on Sunday morning seized documents and other incriminating materials, including bank account records, for the purpose of future confiscation requests.