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Senior Mossad official reportedly fired for pocketing spy agency’s cash

Employee brought home from country where he was serving, booted from spy agency, and made to return thousands of euros, report says

Screen grab from recruitment video for the Mossad intelligence agency. (Screen capture: Facebook video)
Screen grab from recruitment video for the Mossad intelligence agency. (Screen capture: Facebook video)

A senior Mossad official was fired after he was found to have embezzled thousands of euros from the spy agency while carrying out operations abroad, Channel 12 reported Monday.

The official was returned from the country where he was stationed and required to return the cash, the report said.

He reportedly had been syphoning off the funds over a prolonged period of time.

Despite his senior position and the relatively small sum involved, the official was also booted from the organization due to his breach of trust, according to the report, which did not say when the incident happened or provide any other details.

The Mossad declined to comment on the report.

Earlier in the day, reports said that the State Prosecutor’s Office would look into claims that Yossi Cohen, the former head of the Mossad, accepted an illicit gift worth $20,000, among other allegations.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit instructed State Attorney Amit Aisman to conduct a thorough investigation of the apparent serious allegations against Cohen that reached his and the state attorney’s office, the Kan public broadcaster and the Maariv news site reported.

One of the suspected crimes involved Cohen receiving a gift worth $20,000 from billionaire Australian businessman James Packer for his daughter’s wedding — first reported by the Haaretz daily

In a TV interview in June, shortly after retiring as the head of the spy agency, Cohen spoke for the first time about the incident. He claimed to have accepted the funds only after consulting the Mossad’s legal adviser, and said he was committed to returning the gift.

The other allegations against Cohen could not be detailed due to privacy laws, Kan reported. Once the initial examination is concluded, Mandelblit will decide whether a full criminal investigation is required, the report said.

Last month, Channel 13 reported that Cohen was suspected of sharing classified information with a flight attendant with whom he was in close personal contact for the past two years. The report at the time said the incident was being reviewed by the attorney general’s office.

Cohen, 59, was recruited by Mossad at age 22, while studying in London, rising through its ranks to become its chief after a short stint as National Security Council chief.

Cohen, known as “the model” inside the agency, had an unusually public persona for an Israeli spy chief, even as he oversaw operations against Iran’s nuclear program and helped guide Israel’s clandestine ties with Arab nations.

He stepped down as head of the Mossad on June 1, after more than five years on the job. He was replaced by David Barnea.

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