Police probing suspected corruption in Health Ministry
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Police probing suspected corruption in Health Ministry

Year-long covert investigation follows 2017 report that lobbyists paid cash for access to ministry head Yaakov Litzman

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman arrives at the weekly government conference at the PM's office in Jerusalem on October 15, 2017. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman arrives at the weekly government conference at the PM's office in Jerusalem on October 15, 2017. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

For over a year, police have been conducting a covert investigation into suspicions of corruption within the Health Ministry.

The Lahav 433 national crime unit has been looking into suspicions that lobbyists were able to gain access to the highest echelons of the ministry through payments of thousands of shekels to middlemen, Hadashot TV news reported Thursday.

The investigation was launched following a January 2017 Hadashot exposé during which an undercover reporter was able to set up a meeting with then-health minister Yaakov Litzman to seek legislative support to promote a fictitious e-cigarette company after paying an intermediary thousands of shekels in cash.

The meetings with Litzman, who is currently deputy health minister but still the top official in the ministry, and his number two, Itamar Grotto, were reportedly facilitated by Motti Babchik, the minister’s senior assistant and close confidant.

Then health minister Yaakov Litzman secretly filmed by Hadashot news undercover reporter welcoming fictitious lobbyist who paid cash for access in January 2017. (Screen capture: Hadashot news)

Hadashot estimated that the police investigation has also been extended to other bodies and companies that may have tried to promote their affairs in the Health Ministry.

Responding to last year’s report, Litzman insisted he knew nothing about the payments given to the mediators in order to meet with him.

He insisted to Hadashot that he “met with anyone who wanted to meet with him.”

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