Ex-head of Israel Bar Association to be charged with bribery in sex scandal

Prosecutors say they intend to indict Efi Nave and Judge Eti Craif over suspicions he pushed her appointment for sexual favors

Efi Nave in Magistrate's Court in Lod, on April 28, 2019. (Flash90)
Efi Nave in Magistrate's Court in Lod, on April 28, 2019. (Flash90)

Prosecutors announced Tuesday they intend to charge the former head of the Israel Bar Association over suspicions he advocated for the judicial appointment of a woman with whom he was romantically involved.

The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office said Efi Nave will be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a pre-indictment hearing.

Eti Craif, a judge on the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, faces charges of bribery and destroying evidence, also pending a hearing.

Police recommended in September that Nave and Craif stand trial.

Nave, who resigned as head of the bar association after his arrest at the beginning of the year, was one of the nine members of the powerful Judicial Appointments Committee, which decides on placement and promotions for judges in Israel’s three-tiered judicial system. The position gave him outsize influence in helping lawyers advance in their careers — a role he is suspected of exploiting for sex.

Magistrate Eti Craif, whose name was released for publication by the Supreme Court. (Israel Courts web site)

According to prosecutors, Nave worked on numerous occasions to advance Craif’s appointment as a judge, despite the conflict of interest owing to his relationship with her.

A letter of suspicions sent to the pair’s lawyers said that after applying for a judicial position in 2013, Craif reached out to Nave, then head of the bar association’s Tel Aviv district, owing to his ties on the Judicial Appointments Committee.

The two kept in touch by phone “and even had an intimate meeting at Craif’s house,” the letter said.

Prosecutors said Craif and Nave stayed in contact until his appointment as bar association head in 2015, when, being aware of his romantic interest in her and ability to advance her appointment, she “encouraged… the intimate-flirtatious connection with him.”

“The two even had an additional intimate meeting at her home, at the height of the of her judicial appointment proceeding,” according to the letter.

As she developed the “intimate relationship” between them, prosecutors said Craif asked Nave numerous times to work to advance her appointment, “in a way that bound the things to each other.”

She was eventually appointed as a judge on the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court in 2016.

Responding to the prosecutors’ decision to charge them in the case, Craif denied any wrongdoing.

“She doesn’t need any improper act to be chosen” as a judge, an attorney for Craif said.

Efi Nave is seen inside a car after being released from house arrest, January 23, 2019. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Lawyers for Nave noted Craif’s appointment was supported by most of the selections committee and said the investigation was “born in sin.”

That comment was in reference to a civil lawsuit Nave filed in February against Army Radio and a number of its journalists who obtained his cellphone and extracted possibly incriminating messages from the device relating to the alleged sex scandal.

Police said in September that an investigation into an invasion of privacy surrounding evidence obtained by reporters from Nave’s phone as well as other computer material was completed and would be transferred to the state prosecution.

Nave will not be charged over suspicions he acted on behalf of another attorney and a legal specialist from the private sector, with whom police said he was having affairs. The names of the other two women are banned from publication under a gag order.

Nave was also indicted last year on suspicion that he smuggled a female acquaintance out of the country for a trip abroad, and then tried to slip her back unregistered through border control.

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