20 officials from state road company nabbed in graft raid
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20 officials from state road company nabbed in graft raid

Police say top employees in Netivei Israel took kickbacks from suppliers in exchange for helping them win tenders

A screen capture from a presentation for Netivei Israel, showing the company's logo. (Screen capture YouTube)
A screen capture from a presentation for Netivei Israel, showing the company's logo. (Screen capture YouTube)

Israel Police’s Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit on Monday arrested 20 current and former senior officials from a state-owned road building company, and from companies affiliated with it.

The arrests within the Netivei Israel company come after a lengthy corruption investigation; the detainees are suspected of felonies that include bribery, breach of trust and money-laundering of millions of shekels.

A former MK is also among those arrested. None of the detainees were initially named, but Channel 2 later identified the erstwhile lawmaker as Michael Gorlovsky of the Likud.

A police statement Monday pointed to a “system” in which senior Netivei Israel employees worked with certain suppliers to ensure that they would be granted contracts by the company, in return for various kickbacks.

Ex-MK Michael Golovsky (Knesset)
Ex-MK Michael Golovsky (Knesset)

Police have been conducting a secret investigation over the past several months.

“The undercover investigation exposed and confirmed suspicions of several cases, all linked in an organized, systematic method, in which senior company officials promoted … certain external suppliers in return for bribes and benefits,” the police said in a statement.

Former Netivei Israel CEO Yeshayahu Bers at the construction site of a new highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, on June 12, 3013. (Flash 90)
Former Netivei Israel CEO Yeshayahu Bers at the construction site of a new highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, on June 12, 3013. (Flash 90)

During the raid, police seized computers, documents and other material, including bills.

Some of the suspects will be brought to the Rishon Lezion District Court to extend their remand.

The police investigation is being aided by the overseas department at the State Attorney’s Office and the customs and VAT investigations department of the Tax Authority. Police also received assistance from the State Comptroller’s Office, which pointed to gaps in previous reports on how Netivei Israel manages tenders.

Police recently recommended the indictment Yeshayahu Bers and Alex Vizhnitzer, former CEOs of Netivei Israel. The two were linked to allegations of bribe and money laundering in a massive police investigation into felonies allegedly conducted by MKs from the Yisrael Beytenu party.

Vizhnitzer resigned from running Netivei Israel in January 2015 following the allegations that were made against him.

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