When helping NGOs does not pay off: Police arrest Israeli deputy minister Fania Kirshenbaum on charges of funneling funds to non-profit organizations
Israel Police have arrested Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Fania Kirshenbaum amongst others in a probe of suspected illegal transfers of public money to NGOs. (Image courtesy of Jerusalem Post)
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Another embarrassing affair has broken out at the top political level: Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Fania Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beitenu) was detained for questioning today on suspicions of corruption, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and bribery. Several other people in the ministry and other government agencies were also arrested, and more than 30 people are being questioned by the police National Fraud Investigation Unit. Former Yisrael Beitenu minister Stas Misezhnikov is also allegedly connected to the affair.
Kirshenbaum told Channel 2 News that she did not know why she had been detained for questioning. "Just as they have come out with big headlines now, afterwards they should publish all the facts. I don't understand what's happening, and I want to check what it's about. No-one has told me anything. I don't know why I'm coming for questioning, all I hear is from the media. I'm confident of my honesty," Kirshenbaum said.
Israel Police said that over the past year the intelligence and investigation units of the Lahav 433 division had worked to uncover suspicions of corruption among senior people in the public service. With the approval of the Attorney General, the investigation commenced covertly.
Besides Kirshenbaum, among those detained are Misezhnikov, several heads of local authorities and councils, the director general of a government ministry, a former minister, CEO's and heads of non-profit organizations, senior managers of public corporations, and political activists.
"The suspicion has arisen that the suspects acted in concert in a systematic manner to promote their private and political interests and to obtain money for personal needs while committing various offenses, in a way that materially damaged proper governance in the areas in which they worked," the police statement said.
Several affairs are involved in the investigations, the common thread being the suspicion that money was allocated to non-profit organizations not entitled to public funding via organizations that were authorized to receive it. The senior official is suspected of coordinating transfers of money that were apparently unlawful. Several people close to her have also been detained, and the suspicion is that they are connected to transfers of public money to associations and non-profit organizations. The suspects are expected to be brought before the Rishon LeZion Magistrates Court at 14:00 today for a hearing on the extension of their remand.
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