Police recommend indicting Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri for corruption

Pending a review by the State Attorney’s Office, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri could face money laundering, ‎bribery, breach of trust, perjury and tax-evasion charges • Deri denies any wrongdoing, says he is sure State Attorney’s Office will dismiss the case.

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri. Credit: Wikipedia.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri. Credit: Wikipedia.

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.”

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