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AG said set to indict Likud MK David Bitan for bribery, money laundering

Avichai Mandelblit to reportedly pursue criminal charges against Netanyahu loyalist, following hearing with lawmaker’s legal team

MK David Bitan at a Likud party rally in Tel Aviv, on November 17, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)
MK David Bitan at a Likud party rally in Tel Aviv, on November 17, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has decided to file an indictment against senior Likud MK David Bitan for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, as well as money laundering and tax offenses, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Following a hearing with Bitan’s legal team, Mandelblit has concluded that the lawmaker must stand trial and is currently working on completing the full indictment, Kan news and Ynet reported.

Bitan is accused of receiving NIS 992,000 ($287,000) in bribes while serving as deputy mayor of Rishon Lezion and as a Knesset member.

Police recommended last year that Bitan be indicted on multiple corruption charges including bribery, fraud and money laundering over allegations he accepted money in exchange for political favors.

While he has denied wrongdoing, Bitan stepped down from his role as coalition whip in 2017, shortly after news of the police investigation broke.

Then-Rishon Lezion mayor Dov Zur arrives for extension of his remand at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, December 7, 2017. (Avi Dishi/ Flash90)

He is accused of receiving bribes from his business associate Moshe Yosef and from businessman Dror Glazer, both while serving as deputy mayor of Israel’s fourth-largest city, and later as a member of Knesset. Both men have testified against him.

Former deputy Tel Aviv mayor Arnon Giladi and then-Rishon Lezion mayor Dov Zur are also suspects in the alleged bribe-taking scheme that took place between 2011 and 2017.

Police said last year that they had obtained detailed information on how the suspected bribes and money transfers were handled, in light of the testimony from Yosef, who owns a furniture store where Bitan was allegedly given the money.

Arnon Giladi, Tel Aviv’s deputy mayor and chairman of the city’s Likud branch. (courtesy, Arnon Giladi)

Prosecutors said that Bitan advanced the interests of construction company Danya Cebus by approving real estate deals in Rishon Lezion in exchange for a NIS 430,000 ($124,000) cash payment. The sum paid to Bitan was to secure Danya Cebus’s bid to win a municipal tender to build a gas station on the outskirts of the city as well as approval for another construction project outside Jerusalem on Route 38.

They also said that they have uncovered evidence that Bitan and Giladi accepted a bribe of NIS 385,000 ($111,000) to secure building permits for three real estate projects in Tel Aviv. Police said some of the bribe money was transferred to Bitan using fake invoices.

The investigation, dubbed Case 1803, has seen the arrests of a number of suspects, including Rishon Lezion city officials, local businessmen, and organized crime figures.

Bitan has denied any wrongdoing.

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