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Ex-general Gal Hirsch expected to be indicted within days — report

Withdrawn candidate for police commissioner and 3 business partners accused of evading taxes on more than $11 million of income from defense deals in Georgia

Gal Hirsch, a former IDF brigadier-general who had been tapped to be the next head of the Israel Police, arrives to testify before the Turkel Committee vetting his appointment at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 1, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)
Gal Hirsch, a former IDF brigadier-general who had been tapped to be the next head of the Israel Police, arrives to testify before the Turkel Committee vetting his appointment at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 1, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

Prosecutors are expected to file charges in the next few days against a former Israel Defense Force brigadier general who was once in line to head the Israel Police, Channel 13 news reported Sunday evening.

Gal Hirsch, who left the military in 2006 amid criticism over the IDF’s failures in the Second Lebanon War, is suspected of aggravated fraud, money laundering and alleged tax evasion valued at tens of millions of shekels. The suspicions are part of corruption probes into Hirsch’s business dealings as head of the defense services firm Defensive Shield after he left the IDF.

According to the report, Hirsch has been in touch with prosecutors in recent weeks about a possible plea deal, but the sides failed to reach an agreement.

Last year, the state prosecutor’s office for tax and financial crimes informed Hirsch that it was considering indicting him and three others, pending a hearing, for tax crimes that allegedly took place in 2007-2009.

According to the state prosecutor, the four men — Hirsch, Oded Shachnai, Yaniv Adam and Mikhael Benimini — were partners in Defensive Shield, a company that provided defense advice and military training and brokered arms sales to Georgia, and also provided services to other countries between 2007 and 2009.

Prosecutors allege that the men collectively enriched themselves to the tune of NIS 40 million (about $11.5 million), but failed to report this income to the Tax Authority.

The state prosecutor alleged that the four business partners set up a web of companies and bank accounts in Israel, Georgia, Switzerland and Guernsey that they used to receive income from Georgia’s Defense Ministry, divvy it up among themselves, and hide it from Israel’s Tax Authority.

On June 30, 2019 Gal Hirsch joined the Likud at the behest of Prime Minister Netanyahu, he wrote in a Facebook post. (Facebook)

RELATED: Who is Gal Hirsch, championed for top police job by Likud minister, activists?

According to the state prosecutor, “in 2007-2009 Oded Shachnai failed to report personal income of no less than NIS 19.5 million. As part of his fraudulent conduct vis a vis the tax authorities, his personal income was transferred to his personal bank accounts around the world including in Georgia, Jersey and Switzerland.”

Shachnai is also accused of deceiving bank officials at Fortis Bank in Guernsey by telling them that the money entering his bank account there did not come from arms deals, when it allegedly did.

Hirsch is accused of failing to report personal income in 2008 of NIS 6.1 million ($1.7 million). In 2009, he allegedly transferred NIS 3.3 million ($950,000) of his personal income from a secret bank account he kept in Switzerland to a company called Gal Hirsch Ltd. in Israel. Gal Hirsch Ltd. allegedly issued invoices to the foreign company that controlled the Swiss bank account. Israel’s state prosecutor charged that these invoices were fictitious.

Mikhael Benimini is accused of hiding personal income of NIS 13.6 million ($3.9 million) from the Tax Authority, and Yaniv Adam is accused of hiding NIS 3.8 million ($1.1 million).

Hirsch is a Likud politician and was a favorite of party activists for the role of police chief.

Benimini is a close relative of Georgia’s former defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili and has recently run a binary options and cryptocurrency call center from Albania.

Yaniv Adam is the manager and father of the famous Israeli singer Omer Adam.

Simona Weinglass contributed to this report.

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