Interior minister evaded paying NIS 2 million in tax – report

Interior minister evaded paying NIS 2 million in tax – report

Aryeh Deri, who is facing indictment recommendations for a slew of crimes, allegedly cheated authorities of tax on deals worth NIS 8 million

Shas party leader and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 19, 2018, during a special plenum session in memory of late Minister of Religious Affairs David Azoulay. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Shas party leader and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 19, 2018, during a special plenum session in memory of late Minister of Religious Affairs David Azoulay. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, suspected of a series of crimes, allegedly withheld some NIS two million ($540,000) from tax authorities, a report Thursday said.

On Tuesday, police said they were recommending indictments against Deri, who heads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, on charges of fraud, breach of trust, obstructing court proceedings, money laundering, and tax offenses involving millions of shekels, some of which were committed while he was a cabinet minister.

According to a report in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, Deri was involved in deals worth some NIS eight million ($2.145 million), on which he should have paid taxes.

The figure, allowing for interest and linkage, would amount to around NIS two million, the report said.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri attends a ceremony at the President’s Residence, in Jerusalem, on October 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Police said their investigation uncovered evidence that Deri committed “offenses of fraud and breach of trust with respect to his conduct in the case of a businessman while serving as minister, as well as for the commission of tax offenses in significant amounts of millions of shekels, money laundering, disruption of court proceedings and making false statements to the speaker of the Knesset about his assets and revenues.”

The investigation file will be transferred to the State Prosecutor’s Office in the coming days.

Responding to the police announcement, Deri’s office “welcomed” the conclusion of the investigation and said that it was “satisfied” that several suspicions initially investigated were not included in the recommendations.

“We believe that the State Prosecutor’s Office will also remove the rest of the suspicions and it will become clear that Minister Aryeh Deri did not break the law,” a brief statement said.

Police said they found evidence of wrongdoing connected to the purchase of a plot in the Galilee moshav of Safsufa, the sale of apartments and land to his brother in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Shaul, failure to repay or report on a loan of NIS 200,000 ($53,630) from a businessman, Ilan Sharabi, and failure to report on monies received from business entities.

View of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Shaul. October 25, 2018. ( Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The investigation raised alleged irregularities “in bank accounts related to Aryeh Deri and his family, and pointed to significant sums of money transferred from businessmen to the Deri family, some prior to his return to political activity and others after his return to the Knesset,” police said.

“Despite the fact that Minister Deri was explicitly requested not to speak with one of the parties concerned about the issues that were investigated and warned against tampering with evidence, he immediately approached him at the conclusion of his interrogation and discussed the contents of the matter and his expected testimony with the police and refreshed his memory,” police claimed.

Police said that an investigation into additional suspicions had not yet been completed.

“This is a separate case in which the material gathered was not based on evidence against Deri, and therefore it was decided not to delay the transfer of the case in which the suspicions were investigated,” the force said.

Shlomo Deri, the brother of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, in Jerusalem on December 23, 2015. (Flash90)

Investigators also recommended indicting Deri’s brother Shlomo on financial offenses, Israel Police said in a statement.

Deri served 22 months in prison from 2000 to 2002, after he was convicted of taking bribes as interior minister in the 1990s.

He reclaimed the leadership of his Shas party shortly before 2015’s Knesset elections, replacing Eli Yishai. He returned to his Interior Ministry post in 2016, after a court ruled that his prior conviction did not disqualify him from the position.

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