State’s witness resigns from Communications Ministry
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State’s witness resigns from Communications Ministry

Shlomo Filber, who admitted to criminal offenses, to get two months' pay and full severance and pension

Shlomo Filber, director-general of the Communications Ministry, arrives for extension of his remand in Case 4000 at the Magistrate's Court in Rishon Letzion, February 18, 2018. (Flash90)
Shlomo Filber, director-general of the Communications Ministry, arrives for extension of his remand in Case 4000 at the Magistrate's Court in Rishon Letzion, February 18, 2018. (Flash90)

Shlomo Filber, the Communications Ministry director who was enlisted as a state’s witness in corruption probes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is to receive two months’ pay after resigning from his position at the ministry on Thursday to make way for his replacement.

Filber had been suspended for months as police investigated his alleged part in the so-called Bezeq probe, also known as Case 4000.

In a deal agreed with the involvement of the Attorney General and the Civil Service Commission, Filber will receive a one-time payment equivalent to two months’ work. Additionally, despite the circumstances leading to his resignation and the fact that as part of his plea deal he admitted to criminal offenses, Filber will retain his pension rights and will also be entitled to full severance pay.

Firing Filber would have required an official government decision, so Communications Minister Ayoub Kara worked to convince Filber to voluntarily retire.

Kara had insisted that Filber end his tenure at the ministry immediately, so that he could replace acting head Maimon Sham with retired army communications chief Brigadier General Netanel Cohen, which he could not do as long as Filber officially occupied the position.

Filber, a longtime Netanyahu confidant, signed a deal in February to turn state’s witness and possibly incriminate the prime minister in Case 4000.

The probe involves suspicions that Netanyahu, who served as communications minister for several years over his past two terms as premier, advanced regulatory decisions benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Israel’s largest telecommunications firm, Bezeq, in exchange for flattering coverage of the Netanyahus from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.

The prime minister, his wife Sara, and their son Yair have all been questioned as part of the investigation.

In addition to Case 4000, Netanyahu is suspected of wrongdoing in so-called cases 1000 and 2000, in which police have recommended he be indicted for bribery, breach of trust, and fraud.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of lavish gifts from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, allegedly in return for certain benefits.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Netanyahu and his family have denied any wrongdoing in all of the cases.

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