Bezeq owner, ex-Netanyahu adviser reportedly deleted incriminating texts
Suspicion is that Shaul Elovitch and Nir Hefetz coordinated their testimony in Bezeq probe involving prime minister
Two central suspects in the Bezeq probe, a high-profile corruption case, erased incriminating text messages from their phones, Channel 10 reported Monday.
Nir Hefetz, the former spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin and media tycoon Shaul Elovitch reportedly coordinated their version of events and deleted incriminating messages which allegedly linked the favorable coverage Netanyahu received on the Walla news site, owned Elovitch, to policies benefiting Bezeq, which Elovitch controls.
On Monday, the two had their remand extended and will remain in custody until next week.
In the case, known as Case 4000, Elovitch is suspected of giving and receiving bribes and illicit favors worth “up to a billion shekels” (more than a quarter of a billion US dollars), prosecutor Yehudit Tirosh of the Israel Securities Authority said during the deliberation on Elovitch’s request to be released to house arrest.
Tirosh contended that Elovitch “proved with his actions that he cannot be trusted, not then and not since then” and that he should therefore be kept in custody.
She said the case is “very serious” and the suspects should be remanded because there is a substantial risk that they will obstruct the investigation if freed.
On Sunday, a source familiar with the various investigations told The Times of Israel that it was “likely” investigators would summon the prime minister for questioning on Case 4000 this Friday, Purim in Jerusalem, “possibly” even under caution, which would mean that they were treating him as a suspect.
The source also said that the prime minister could be interrogated as a criminal suspect in Case 3000.
That case involves suspected corruption in the purchase of submarines and other naval vessels from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp. It has focused on suspicions that state officials were bribed to influence a decision to purchase four patrol boats and three Dolphin-class submarines costing a total of 2 billion euros, despite opposition to the deal from the Defense Ministry.
Neither the Israel Police or the Prime Minister’s Office would confirm that an interrogation on Cases 3000 and 4000 had been scheduled for Friday, or that Netanyahu would face questioning in either case.
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.