Ex-coalition whip interrogated for 13th time in bribery probe
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Ex-coalition whip interrogated for 13th time in bribery probe

Likud’s David Bitan denies wrongdoing, has vowed to cooperate with police investigation into whether he accepted hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes

Likud MK David Bitan leaves the Lahav 433 headquarters after questioning by police on September 16, 2018. (Flash 90)
Likud MK David Bitan leaves the Lahav 433 headquarters after questioning by police on September 16, 2018. (Flash 90)

Likud MK David Bitan was again questioned by police on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into suspicions that he accepted hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes, some of them after becoming a member of Knesset.

It was Bitan’s 13th interrogation by Lahav 433 national fraud unit investigators, in connection with the case.

Bitan, who chose to remain silent in some of his initial rounds of questioning, began cooperating with police investigators in the last three interrogations, according to a Hadashot news report last year.

Last April, Hadashot reported that police were planning to recommend indicting him.

Bitan — who stepped down as coalition whip after it was revealed he was being investigated, but remains a member of Knesset — is also likely to be charged with money laundering and tax offenses, the report said.

He is suspected of receiving the money both while serving as deputy mayor of Rishon Lezion and, later, as a member of parliament, from his business associate Moshe Yosef and from businessman Dror Glazer, who have both testified against him.

Metzada furniture store in Rishon Lezion, suspected of being used to launder money on behalf of MK David Bitan. (Screen capture: Google Maps)

Investigators reportedly hold specific information on how the suspected bribes and money transfers were handled, in light of the testimony from Yosef, who owns a furniture store where police suspect the bribes were given to Bitan.

Bitan was confronted with Yosef’s testimony during an interrogation early last year. In a major development, Yosef reportedly gave a detailed account, telling investigators that the bribes were frequent, including during the past five years. Yosef told investigators that he had delivered hundreds of thousands of shekels to Bitan during visits the Likud lawmaker made to Yosef’s store, called Metzada.

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

Bitan denies any wrongdoing.

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