The Israeli media revealed on Thursday that a major corruption scandal is under investigation involving senior police officers suspected of receiving bribes from renowned Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. Among the suspects is the head of the police National Fraud Squad, Ephraim Baraka, who is suspected of receiving bribes from Rabbi Pinto to gain information about an investigation into a charity run by the rabbi. Major General Menashe Arviv, who heads Unit Lahav 433, which includes the fraud squad, the serious and international crimes unit and the financial investigations unit, is also under investigation.
The details of the investigation have been subject to a gag order until the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court acceded to a request by Haaretz newspaper to lift the ban as from Thursday morning.
Haaretz said that the investigation began weeks ago when information was received about the “suspicious” relationship linking Pinto to a number of senior police officers. Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said that the information came from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) while other media outlets suggest that the FBI link is unclear.
Pinto is a well-known Rabbi who enjoys wide popularity and has relationships with politicians and businessmen in the United States and Israel. Arviv, it is claimed, has asked the Inspector General of Police to take time off work until the end of the investigation.