Litzman advisers under police probe for bribery, fraud

UTJ MK Ya'acov Litzman seen in the Israeli parliament on the day of the presidential elections, in Jerusalem, June 2, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Two top advisers to UTJ MK Ya'acov Litzman, as well as two corporate CEOs and a media figure arrested for bribery and fraud charges.

Two top advisers of UTJ MK Ya'acov Litzman are being probed for bribery as part of a wide-ranging fraud scheme in the health sector involving powerful private sector and media figures.
On Sunday, Israel police had only released a general description of the suspects, but later in the day the suspects were confirmed as current Litzman chief of staff Moti Bobchick and former Litzman adviser and Hamodia journalist Menachem Gesheid.
Both are viewed as powerhouses in their own right within the Haredi political realm and the description of their houses being raided by law enforcement was a stunning turn of events.
"Anyone who knows my trusted adviser [Bobchick] knows his honesty and efficiency," Litzman stated, "and I know that all of the suspicions that were mentioned today in the context of the investigation are unfounded."
The investigation dates back to 2017 when Litzman was still the Health Minister, with police wiretaps on a number of the suspects.
The police said that the suspects allegedly conspired to influence aspects of government policy in the food sector and other health sector issues in exchange for bribes.
Two corporate CEOs are also suspects in a scheme in which funds were allegedly illegally transferred to a corporate entity controlled by Bobchick as well as being funneled as advertisements in Hamodia for the benefit of Gesheid.
Erez Gilhar co-CEO of Policy - a government relations consulting company - was also named as a suspect in the affair together with Avi Danziger, CEO of the Roche Israel.
Some of the suspects may also be charged with fraud and breach of public trust.
The various suspects’ arrests were extended until Monday or Tuesday, with some put under house arrest afterward.
Some lawyers claimed the quick releases showed only ancillary involvement in the saga.
Reportedly, additional suspects from Tnuva are also being questioned and some of the private sector suspects were formerly Tnuva officials trying to get the Health Ministry to slow or mitigate reforms that might negatively impact the company.
Litzman himself is also likely to be indicted in a completely separate scandal involving sexual assault offender Malka Leifer and improperly trying to influence inspectors to reopen a restaurant that failed a health inspection.

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