Israel Police announced on Sunday there is sufficient evidence to indict Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) on charges of fraudulently obtaining benefits, fraud, breach of trust and extortion and intimidation, during his term as the head of the workers’ union at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Katz was questioned in the case three times, twice in July and once in August.
Police said in a statement that Katz and other senior members of the workers union systematically instructed company employees to perform jobs for their personal benefit. In return for the favors, Katz provided paid positions both outside and within the IAI.
Police also questioned current IAI Union head Ehud Nof and senior member of the worker’s union Eli Cohen, as well as IAI board member Amal Assa’ad, who is suspected of fraud and breach of trust and extortion and intimidation, among other things.
Yair Katz, the minister’s son, is suspected of the same offenses as his father.
According to police statement, the Minister also took personal advantage of the resources of the government-owned company, totaling sums of thousands of shekels, despite being an elected public official.
In addition, Katz is suspected of acting contrary to a directive by the Attorney General when he appointed a chairman of the board of directors and intervened in internal matters related to the organization of employees at Israel Aircraft Industries.
The investigation was conducted jointly by the National Fraud Unit Lahav 433, the money laundering and terror financing prevention authority, and the Economic Department of the State Attorney’s Office.
In response, Katz stated he was not surprised by the police recommendation to indict him because they do not want to admit that the investigation was vain. “Anyone understands (what is going on knows) that there is no basis for these delusional claims,” he said.
“It’s clear to me that common sense and logic will prevail at the State Attorney’s Office, and that no indictment will be filed on this matter,” Katz concluded.
Last November Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon accepted a Movement for Quality Government request to disqualify both Katz and Prime Minister Netanyahu from voting on the controversial Recommendations Bill, which seeks to block police from publishing the results of criminal investigations of public figures. The Movement said there would be a conflict of interest for both ministers in light of ongoing police investigations.
Minister Katz is also a suspect in another case which deals with his role in forcing IAI employees to join the Likud Party and to vote for him in the party’s primaries. Police say they have testimonies describing threats made by Katz against employees but have not recommended indictment in the case.