Electric company officials arrested on graft suspicions
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Electric company officials arrested on graft suspicions

Six current and former figures detained in police probe into multi-million dollar corruption case

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

View from inside an Israel Elecric Corporation control room in Hadera. IEC is the main supplier of electrical power in Israel. August 11, 2011. (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
View from inside an Israel Elecric Corporation control room in Hadera. IEC is the main supplier of electrical power in Israel. August 11, 2011. (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Six current and former senior Israel Electric Corporation officials were arrested midday Sunday as part of an Israel Securities Authority investigation into a multi-million dollar corruption case involving the German engineering giant Siemens.

Yakov Hain, who was until last Thursday the deputy director-general of the company, was one of those arrested. He is suspected of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. Hain’s remand was extended for four days.

The company said that Hain quit last week for health reasons.

Hain’s lawyer, Dov Gilad Cohen, pointed to Hain’s record of service, and said he was confident that it would become clear that his client had not taken part in any wrongdoing.

Another former deputy director-general, David Kohn, was also arrested, on suspicion of taking bribes, fraud, and money laundering.

Kohn, who also had his remand extended by four days, recommended in 2001 that the IEC buy massive gas turbines worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Siemens.

Kohn left the IEC suddenly in 2004. Kohn’s lawyer denied that his client had any part in the bribery scandal.

IEC deputy director general for planning and technological development David Elmakayis was also arrested, as was senior IEC official Yonah Schweitzer.

The investigation revolves around a tender from 1999-2001, when Israel purchased gas turbines from Siemens for more than $650 million, The Marker reported.

Former District Court judge Dan Cohen, who sat on the IEC board, was found guilty of giving Siemens an edge in winning the tender in exchange for an NIS 4 million bribe, and is a central figure in the case. He fled to Peru in 2005, and was eventually extradited back to Israel, where he agreed to a plea deal that put him in jail for six years.

In a statement, the IEC said it would cooperate with the investigation, and that the crimes in question took place more than a decade ago, before the current chairman and director general were in office. “It should be emphasized that the management of the company has a zero-tolerance policy on bribery, and is doing all it can to maintain transparency and proper governance.”

In June, the gag order was lifted on news that the Shin Bet and the police were questioning under caution four businessmen and former IEC employees suspected of taking and transferring $16 million in bribes, business website Globes reported.

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