Petah Tikva Mayor Rami Greenberg and his municipality’s director-general Yaniv Benita were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, false registration of documents and tax offenses, police said.
The arrests were first reported on Wednesday morning, but Greenberg’s name was only disclosed in the afternoon after the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extended his arrest by six days.
Two businesspeople linked to the mayor were also arrested following an investigation by Lahav 433, the police anti-corruption unit.
Police began their investigation after the 2018 municipal elections, with suspicions that hundreds of thousands of shekels had been transferred to the mayor at the time in the form of campaign funds.
In exchange, Greenberg is alleged to have agreed to provide economic favors to the donors in the wake of his election victory.
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Police said they had obtained information on two phone calls made by Greenberg that proved he was attempting to disrupt the investigation into him, which led to his arrest.
Greenberg’s attorney Ofer Bartal protested the arrest, pointing to its timing on the same day as the primary elections of the Likud party, of which Greenberg is a member.
“We’re talking about a person who was a police officer and a prosecutor, an IDF combat soldier. The last thing he’ll do is disrupt an investigation,” Bartal was cited by the Ynet news site as asserting.
Greenberg was detained in July on suspicion of corruption in a separate case, in which he allegedly withheld municipal funding from institutes that were entitled to it unless they fired or ousted officials that he considered his opponents, as well as their family members, from key positions.
At the time, Greenberg denied the allegations against him and railed against “intrigues” and “hatred” in the public service he claimed had led unidentified individuals to attempt to topple him.
In January, Or Akiva Mayor Yaakov Edri was told by prosecutors they were considering indicting him on a string of corruption charges, including bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Police had recommended last year that he be charged.
Also in January, an oversight committee suspended Hadera Mayor Zvi Gendelman for six months after he was indicted last October on corruption charges.