Photo Credit: Flash90
Aryeh Deri on his way to Maasiyahu prison, September 3, 2000.

Police on Tuesday announced the accumulation of an evidentiary foundation in the case of Interior Minister and Minister for the Development of the Periphery, the Negev and the Galilee, Aryeh Deri (Shas). The minister is suspected of money laundering, bribery, breach of trust, perjury and tax violations. Israel Police and the Tax Authority recommended to the prosecution to submit indictments against the minister.

Deri was convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes while serving a previous stint as Interior Minister, and was sentenced to three years in prison in 2000. He was released on good behavior in 2002, after serving 22 months. He was appointed Interior Minister a second time in January 2016, in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.

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Police also recommended the indictment of the minister’s brother, attorney Shlomo Deri, who currently serves as deputy chairman of JNF, for tax violations amounting to millions of shekels. Additional individuals are also included in the police recommendations for indictments, on money laundering and tax violations.

The investigation findings established an evidentiary foundation against Deri on committing fraud and breach of trust through his conduct in the case of a businessman, while serving as minister, as well as for the commission of tax offenses in millions of shekels, of money laundering, and disruption of legal proceedings.

Deri is also suspected of submitting a false affidavit to the State Comptroller and to the Knesset Speaker regarding his assets and income.

The investigation began secretly in 2015 by the National Fraud Unit, Lahav 433, with assistance from the Prohibition of Money Laundering Authority. The initial investigation raised suspicions of unusual movements in bank accounts associated with Aryeh Deri and family members, pointing to the alleged transfer of significant amounts of money from businessmen to the Deri family – some of them prior to his return to political life and some after his election to the Knesset.

The Interior Minister’s office issued a response saying: “We welcome the conclusion of the police investigation which lasted almost three years. We respond with satisfaction the shelving of the serious suspicions of receiving bribes, stealing from associations and more, which at the time were the reason for launching the investigation. We believe that when the State Prosecutor’s Office deals with the case, the rest of the suspicions will also be dropped and it will become clear that Minister Aryeh Deri did not break the law.”

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel said in response: “The State of Israel is the only country in the world, with the exception of India, where a minister who had been convicted of a criminal offense resumed the same minister’s office. In this atmosphere of lawlessness and injustice, a culture of corruption and unacceptable norms has been developing.”

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