Police: Deep-rooted corruption at state’s road and rail company
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Police: Deep-rooted corruption at state’s road and rail company

String of current, former officals suspected of bribery, fraud and other misdeeds amounting to hundreds of millions of shekels

A screen capture from a presentation for Netivei Israel, showing the company's logo. (Screen capture YouTube)
A screen capture from a presentation for Netivei Israel, showing the company's logo. (Screen capture YouTube)

Police said Wednesday they have completed a corruption investigation involving dozens of senior current and former employees of the state-owned National Transport Infrastructure Company (Netivei Israel), which is responsible for Israel’s roads and railways.

“We investigated a suspected systematic and organized mechanism for the transfer of state funds… estimated at hundreds of millions of shekels,” the police said in a statement. “An evidentiary foundation has been formed, seemingly, of a string of offenses by senior executives, mostly former [executives] while they were at Netivei Israel.”

The investigation, which went on for more than a year and is titled Case 618, was carried out by a national police unit and involves some 40 suspects from 11 different companies.

Netivei Israel was the successor to Public Works Company following a 2003 reorganization. According to a report from Israel Radio, the company’s annual budget is NIS 7 billion ($1.85 billion) and it is valued at around NIS 100 billion ($26.4 billion).

Among the prime suspects are Alex Vizhnitzer, who was director-general of the company from 2003 to 2010; former Likud MK Michael Gorlovsky; Yeshayahu Bers, director from 2011 to 2013; and Mikha Kopilovsky, acting general manger 2014-2015.

Former Netivei Israel CEO Yeshayahu Bers at the construction site of a new highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, on June 12, 3013. (Flash 90)
Former Netivei Israel CEO Yeshayahu Bers (Flash 90)

They are suspected of a number of offenses including giving and taking bribes, aggravated fraud, falsifying corporate documents, breach of corporate trust, and income tax offenses.

“The investigation uncovered alleged systematic criminal activity and deep corruption within Netivei Israel for more than a decade, under the tenure of several CEOs and with the involvement of a range of people from different levels of the company, including executives, managers, and junior staff, as well as those who were supposed to be the ‘gatekeepers,’ and likewise advisers, suppliers, and all kinds of service providers, this while committing various offenses.” police said.

Former Likud party member of Knesset, Michael Gorlovsky, is brought to court after being arrested for alleged blackmail in a corruption affair with senior members of the Netivei Israel company, at the Rishon Letzion court, November 2, 2015. (Flash90)
Former Likud party member of Knesset, Michael Gorlovsky, is brought to court after being arrested for alleged blackmail in a corruption affair with senior members of the Netivei Israel company, at the Rishon Lezion court, November 2, 2015. (Flash90)

In November 2015 police arrested 20 current and former senior officials from the company. Police also recommended the indictment of Bers and Vizhnitzer after the two were linked to allegations of bribes and money laundering in a massive police investigation into felonies allegedly conducted by MKs from the Yisrael Beytenu party.

Vizhnitzer resigned from Netivei Israel in January 2015 following the allegations that were made against him.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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