Monday, October 26, 2020

Israel: Former senior foreign ministry official sentenced to 3 years jail for bribery, theft


The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday sentenced a former senior Foreign Ministry official to three years in prison for bribery and theft to the range of hundreds of thousands of shekels between 2008 and 2013.
In 2015, the Justice Ministry Economic Crimes Division filed an indictment against Foreign Ministry Head of Acquisitions Avshalom Ashuri and his deputy Yehoshua Gabai related to the ministry’s Cairo Embassy, which was vacated during the eruption of protests in Egypt and an attack on the Embassy in 2011. The embassy remained unoccupied for a period of years, though by 2015 had been reopened.
Ashuri was sentenced to three years in jail, while Gabai’s case is still pending.
According to the indictment, when the embassy was being evacuated, a security guard grabbed around $100,000 from an embassy safe and put it in a bag to bring back to Israel. About $25,000 fell out of the bag and was lost, but around $75,000 made it back to the country and was placed in a special account.

Ashuri and Gabai both had knowledge of and access to various financial accounts of the Foreign Ministry. Gabai made multiple attempts to draw down on the account in order to steal the funds, according to the indictment.

The indictment did not explain what the outcome of those attempts were, but the criminal proceeding itself suggests that this could have been one of the stages where Gabai was put under suspicion.
Ashuri and Gabai were also each accused of using ministry funds to pay for trips to Eilat and other places valued around hundreds of thousands of shekels.
Moreover, Ashuri and Gabai had the authority to approve office purchases and were in charge of maintaining communications with a ministry supplier named David Mirilly. As part of that relationship, Mirilly provided Ashuri air conditioning units for personal use for free that were worth NIS 23,000, the indictment said.
Mirilly also provided Gabai with a refrigerator, oven and stove for personal use for free which were worth NIS 14,000.
On top of the above issues, Ashuri and Gabai allegedly used ministry funds to pay for NIS 150,000 of personal use food items.
A Justice Ministry statement in 2015 noted that Mirilly was indicted in September 2015 and had cut a plea bargain with the state, likely leading to him turning state’s witness against Ashuri and Gabai.

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