Former chief rabbi arrested for allegedly stealing millions
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Former chief rabbi arrested for allegedly stealing millions

Yona Metzger, who gave up his position earlier this year, faces a laundry list of corruption charges

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger, in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2013. (photo credit:Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger, in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2013. (photo credit:Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former chief rabbi Yona Metzger was arrested on Monday at the culmination of a long investigation into a litany of financial crimes involving millions of shekels.

Metzger was brought before the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court and charged with offenses that included fraud, bribery, money laundering, breach of trust, obstruction of justice and tampering with witnesses. Police maintained a partial gag order on some details of the case and although initial news of an arrest broke Monday morning, it was only in the afternoon that Metzger’s name was released.

The police said the investigation was carried out over several months by its corruption and organized crime department, known as Unit 433, and involved the tax authorities and the Jerusalem district attorney.

The court granted a police request to remand Metzger in custody for 10 days.

According to the allegations, various nonprofit organizations connected with the rabbi during his term in office received millions of shekels in donations, some of which Metzger allegedly siphoned off for his own personal use.

In addition, he is suspected of receiving bribes to sway his opinion on matters he attended to in his capacity as chief rabbi.

Police reportedly continued to monitor Metzger following his initial house arrest earlier this year, during which time he allegedly tried to obstruct the investigation against him and tamper with witnesses.

Although the investigation was initially covert it became public in June 2013 when Metzger, who was at the time still the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, was placed under house arrest. While proclaiming his innocence, Metzger, whose 10-year term as chief rabbi was months away from its conclusion, chose to resign his position.

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