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Police recommend welfare minister be indicted for corruption

Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz attends a Labor and Welfare committee meeting in the Knesset, June 08, 2015.
Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz attends a Labor and Welfare committee meeting in the Knesset, June 08, 2015. Source: Alster/FLASh90.

This material belongs to: The Times of Israel.

Officers say Haim Katz, his son and top Israel Aerospace Industries officials should be tried for bribery, fraud, breach of trust.

Police on Sunday announced there was sufficient evidence to indict Welfare Minister Haim Katz, his son, and top Israel Aerospace Industries officials on corruption-related charges.

Katz is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust while serving as the head of IAI’s workers’ union for the two decades leading up to his becoming a Likud minister in 2015.

In a statement, police said there was also enough evidence to indict Katz’s son Yair, a top IAI official and senior union figure; the company’s current union head, Ehud Nof; union member Eli Cohen; and board member Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Assad.

Anti-corruption police investigators are recommending that Katz and the others be charged with giving and accepting bribes, fraud, breach of trust and extortion by threats.

Police said Katz used his senior position to advance his own interests, including promising lucrative employment — both inside and outside the company– to IAI board members who cooperated with him.

In addition, police said Katz violated a directive by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who ordered him to distance himself from board members while they appointed a new chairman.

Suspicions of corruption at IAI became public last year when police raided the defense contractor, arresting 14 people, including Yair Katz.

Haim Katz was questioned by Lahav 433 anti-fraud investigators at least three times in 2017. The final interrogation, in August, lasted for over 10 hours.

The labor union at IAI, which employs some 16,000 people and is Israel’s largest state-owned company, is seen as closely tied to Katz, who chaired the union for more than 20 years.

Katz on Sunday blasted the police indictment recommendation and urged the state attorney not to prosecute him on the “false claims.”

“I didn’t expect any different from the police, because they obviously can’t admit that the enormous resources they invested in this delusional investigation were in vain,” he said in a statement. “Anyone who has eyes understands that there is nothing here, and there is no basis for the false claims.”

He implored the state attorney to “show some common sense and decide not to prosecute me.”