13 arrested for ‘deep corruption’ at Israeli Aerospace Industries

Months-long covert probe yields suspicions of fraud, money laundering against employees of IAI, former senior IDF officer

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative: Drones in a hangar at Israel Aerospace Industries, near Tel Aviv, on May 28, 2013. (AP/Oded Balilty)
Illustrative: Drones in a hangar at Israel Aerospace Industries, near Tel Aviv, on May 28, 2013. (AP/Oded Balilty)

Police arrested 13 people, including a former high-ranking IDF officer, on Wednesday morning, following a months-long “deep corruption” probe into the Israeli Aerospace Industries, police said.

They are suspected of a wide range of corruption charges, including fraud and money laundering.

The suspects came from IAI and private companies who either supplied or were supplied by IAI, along with the aforementioned former senior Israel Defense Forces officer, who police said was “well known in the defense establishment.”

A number of other people were “detained for investigation,” but not formally arrested, police said.

IAI said it would cooperate with the probe.

On Wednesday morning, police also raided the homes of the suspects, their companies and the offices of the Israeli Aerospace Industries.

“This is an extensive investigation, with a wide scope, which includes a number of sub-scandals, and raises suspicions of a range of charges — corruption, aggravated fraud, money laundering, theft by public officials, illegal business practices, fraud and breach of trust,” police said in a statement.

The “covert investigation” was conducted by the police’s Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, along with investigators from the Tax Authority and the Director of Security of the Defense Establishment, an internal Defense Ministry investigatory unit.

The financial crimes department of the State’s Attorney’s Office was also involved in the investigation, police said.

“The covert investigation of this affair has thus far shown systemic criminal business practices and the suspicion of deep corruption, which is apparently common in the Israeli Aerospace Industries,” police said.

Those allegedly involved in the criminal activities include board members and managers, as well as junior staff, and “those that are supposed to be gatekeepers and advisers,” police said.

IAI said in a statement that it had been made aware of the probe on Wednesday and did not have further information on the details of the investigation.

Company leadership said it had “instructed all relevant officials to cooperate fully and unreservedly with the police and to proceed according to their instructions, in order to allow a full investigation and bring to justice any who have committed offenses.”

The statement added that “The IAI will continue to serve as a cornerstone of Israel’s security and economy.”

Several of the people arrested are set to be brought before a judge in Rishon Lezion later Wednesday in order to keep them in custody, police said.

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