15 arrested in Ashdod port corruption sting

15 arrested in Ashdod port corruption sting

Detainees include senior officials suspected of promoting contracts for private companies in return for kickbacks

View of the Ashdod port (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
View of the Ashdod port (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Anti-corruption police arrested 15 current and former port workers in an early morning raid in Ashdod Tuesday.

The 15, including a number of senior officials, are suspected of being part of a corruption ring at the port, police said.

The arrests were the result of a year-long undercover operation.

Authorities said that their investigation revealed a suspected network of port workers who would use their influence to secure port contracts for private companies controlled by associates, who would in turn kick back a share of their profits to the workers.

The suspects were detained on various charges including abuse of office, bribery, breach of trust, extortion, fraud, and money-laundering.

The detainees include officials at the port who are employees of the state, and others who work at private companies based at the port, Channel 10 reported.

Some of the detainees do not currently work at the port, but did so in the past.

As part of the investigation, several houses of suspects and their offices were searched, police said. Officials set a press conference for Tuesday afternoon in Petah Tikva, where more details were to be revealed.

Ashdod’s port is a major cargo and container gateway for Israel, along with a port in Haifa.

Longshoremen and other port officials have come under public scrutiny in past years over high wages and a series of labor actions, leading the government to consider allowing for the opening of private ports.

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