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Another corruption scandal embroils Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [File photo]

A report by an Israeli regulatory authority has highlighted the relationship between Shaul Elovitch – the main shareholder in the Israeli national telecommunications company Bezeq – and company officials on the one hand and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the other.

According to the report, prepared by retired inspecting judge Joseph Shapira and based on communications files he examined, “The Ministry of Justice should have investigated whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Elovitch had discussed matters that were under the responsibility of the Ministry of Communications before reaching an agreement between the Ministry and Bezeq concerning conflicts of interest. Without a thorough investigation of the matter, there is still doubt that they have discussed these matters.”

According to i24news, Shapira pointed out that there are suspicions of possible coordination between Netanyahu, who was then minister of communications, and the director of the biggest telecommunications company in Israel concerning the policy to be adopted by the ministry.

Earlier on Wednesday the director general of the Ministry of Communications, Shlomo Filber, was called for questioning over the “Bezeq affair”.

Read: Netanyahu’s wife to be indicted over corruption charges

Shapira highlighted misconduct by ministry officials who facilitated a takeover by the controlling shareholder in Bezeq of Yes (a broadcast satellite television group) and other subsidiaries.

Netanyahu’s office issued a response, stating: “This is another attempt to create a storm out of nothing against the Prime Minister… regarding Elovitch, they had friendly ties but nothing beyond that.”

The statement continued: “Any decisions he made regarding the media market, and even before that, were taken in wake of professional opinions he was given and with the general public best interests at heart.”

Netanyahu is accused of involvement in a number of corruption cases. The Bezeq scandal is the result of an investigation launched three weeks ago by the Israel Financial Securities Authority. The investigation involved interrogations with Elovitch, his son and a group of senior officials in Yes, including Ron Yalon, the general manager.

There is suspicion surrounding the the sale of Bezeq’s shares in Eurocom – a company owned by Elovitch – to Yes, another subsidiary. According to the allegations Yes falsified a number of financial documents, including manipulating its revenue figures and expenses for 2015 and 2016.

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