Police remand mayor of northern city in corruption probe

Police remand mayor of northern city in corruption probe

Yaakov Peretz of Kiryat Ata suspected of accepting bribes, breach of trust and money laundering in wide-ranging graft case

Kiryat Ata mayor Yaakov Peretz, left, February 7, 2017. (Yaacov Cohen/Flash90)
Kiryat Ata mayor Yaakov Peretz, left, February 7, 2017. (Yaacov Cohen/Flash90)

The mayor of the northern city of Kiryat Ata, Yaakov Peretz, who is embroiled in a major corruption probe, was remanded by police on Thursday.

Peretz was arrested Monday on suspicion of accepting bribes, breach of trust, money laundering and other crimes.

Police had evidence of suspicious money transfers involving a businessman close to Peretz, the Kan public broadcaster reported Thursday.

A wiretap recorded businessman Eliyahu Chen and a contractor, Avraham Kogman, discussing a money transfer that appeared to be intended for Peretz.

Chen told investigators that they had misunderstood the recording and that the money was intended for someone else.

The new details were revealed during hearings regarding the extension of Peretz’s arrest, as well as Tel Mond Council Head Shmuel Siso. Following the hearings, Judge Einat Ron said that due to the many developments in the case, especially regarding Siso, she was compelled to remand both suspects.

Siso is suspected of taking bribes in exchange for advancing the interests of infrastructure contractors in the Sharon region.

Both officials are suspected of taking bribes from Kogman, a lobbyist who deals with Israeli roads.

Chen is reportedly a close associate of Peretz.

The Lahav 443 police unit headquarters in Lod, November 4, 2019. (Flash90)

Police on Monday arrested more than a dozen employees of local municipalities, including Peretz and Siso, for their suspected roles in the corruption scheme.

A statement from police’s anti-corruption unit Lahav 433 said 10 people were arrested Monday, and nine others were detained for questioning as part of the investigation.

The suspects are facing charges of fraud, bribery, money laundering and other corruption-related offenses.

The statement said the arrests early Monday morning came after a “prolonged and extensive undercover investigation” into the public servants.

Police suspect the municipality officials were accepting bribes from contractors in the Haifa area in exchange for construction jobs.

“Police will continue to investigate and reveal any further offenses in this case that damages everyday citizens’ trust in the state, its institutions and its elected officials,” the Lahav unit said in a statement.

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