Police on Tuesday said they were recommending filing indictments against Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on suspicion of committing 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.
Investigators also recommended indicting Deri’s brother Shlomo on financial offenses, Israel Police said in a statement.
Police said the investigation found evidence of Minister Deri “committing 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 suspicions against Deri did not include allegations of bribery which, according to media reports in April, were dropped due to lack of evidence.
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 that it was “satisfied” 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.
Deri is suspected of diverting hundreds of thousands of shekels in state funds to NGOs run by members of his immediate family, as well as suspected tax fraud linked to the sale of apartments to his brother.
Police said the investigation dealt with “financial transfers in amounts of hundreds of thousands of shekels,” which were moved by Deri to “various business people, the nature of the payments, and the manner of reporting them, in transactions for the sale of plots owned by Deri,” as well as “statements by the minister to the Speaker of the Knesset and the State Comptroller, missing reports in financial declarations to the tax authorities, and more.”
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.
In some of the rounds of interrogations held in July, August, and September, investigators questioned both Deri and his wife, Yaffa, who runs two of the organizations, Mifalot Simcha and Yehudia Yaale, that allegedly received the public funds.
Yaffa Deri is suspected of using money donated to her nonprofit organizations to purchase real estate. She has joined her husband for two of the previous rounds of questioning.
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 his prior conviction did not disqualify him from the position.