Police Recommend Fraud Indictment for Israeli Minister

W460

Israeli police on Tuesday recommended the indictment of Interior Minister Arye Deri for fraud and breach of trust in an investigation related to real estate sales.

The attorney general will now decide whether to charge Deri, who heads ultra-Orthodox Jewish party Shas and has previously served prison time for corruption.

"The findings of the investigation are that there is an evidentiary basis against Deri that he committed fraud and breach of trust in connection with his conduct while serving as a minister," a police statement said.

It said there was also evidence of tax offences amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars and money laundering, among others.

The long-running investigation looked into large money transfers to Deri linked to land sales, police said.

Deri proclaimed his innocence and noted that previous allegations of bribe-taking were not included in the police recommendation.

They are the latest corruption allegations to hit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

Police have recommended charges against Netanyahu in two separate corruption probes and the attorney general is expected to decide in the coming months whether to charge him.

In another investigation, police said earlier this month there was evidence to charge a lawyer for Netanyahu and the former head of his office, among others, with bribery linked to the purchase of German submarines.

Netanyahu was questioned as a witness and not a suspect in that case.

Deri was sentenced to three years in prison in 2000 for taking $155,000 in bribes, though his sentence was reduced by a third for good behavior.

His Shas party is a key part of Netanyahu's right-wing coalition.

The interior ministry in Israel does not oversee the police, as is often the case in other countries.

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