(November 20, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri may soon face another criminal indictment, as the police said on Tuesday that a recent corruption investigation into potential wrongdoing on his part yielded evidence suggesting a series of financial offenses amounting to millions of shekels.
In 2000, Deri was convicted of a number of corruption charges and served nearly two years in prison.
His brother, attorney Shlomo Deri, and several other individuals are also named as suspects in this latest case.
The current investigation, which focuses on illicit property deals and tax offenses, supports suspicions of money laundering, bribery, breach of trust, perjury and tax evasion, the police said.
Launched in 2015, the investigation is headed by the Major Crimes Unit, and involves the Israel Tax Authority and the Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority.
Dozens of witnesses have been questioned in the case. Deri, his wife, Yaffa, his brother and other relatives have been questioned under caution several times.
The police said that during the course of the investigation, suspicions involving bribery and embezzlement from nonprofit organizations were ruled out, but stressed that the most recent findings in the case have corroborated suspicion that Deri allegedly perjured himself in an affidavit to the state comptroller and the Knesset speaker about his assets.
Under Israeli law, all lawmakers are required to submit an affidavit of this nature upon taking office.
The case will be transferred to the State Attorney’s Office in the coming days, for a final decision on whether criminal charges will in fact be pursued.
Deri previously served as interior minister from 1988 to 1993 before the Supreme Court forced him to resign due to the corruption charges against him. In 2000, he was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for taking bribes while he was interior minister. Deri served just under two years in prison before being released in July 2002.
After a mandated cooling-off period due to moral turpitude, he re-entered politics and was elected to the Knesset in 2013. He was named interior minister in 2016.
Deri’s office said in a statement Monday that he “welcomes the conclusion of this investigation, which went on for almost three years,” adding he was “satisfied to learn that the serious suspicions of accepting bribes and embezzling from nonprofit organizations were disproved.”
He “believes that once the State Attorney’s Office looks into the other suspicions in the case, they, too, will be dismissed.”