Transportation Minister Miri Regev Investigated for Fraud, Breach of Trust

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On Monday, Lahav 433, the Israel Police’s fraud unit, opened an investigation into alleged criminal acts of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust by Transportation Minister Miri Regev and her staff, following a report last month from Channel 13’s HaMakor.

Investigators raided the Transportation Ministry building in Yerushalayim on Monday, conducting searches and seizing documents.

The allegations into Regev include that she used government powers and funds outside of broad public interest. According to legal expert Dr. Yuval Karniel: “Indeed, these actions by Miri Regev, if and when proven in court, constitute serious criminal offenses. The first of them is breach of trust, whereby a public official is prohibited from exercising governmental powers and distributing public funds or benefits and reliefs, except according to the broad public interest. It is a crime for a public official to do so according to their interests.

“This is not only a criminal breach of trust, but in some cases, it is also bribery, since there is an acceptance of a benefit in exchange for acts of a public official, for the benefit of those giving the bribe,” he stated. “In addition, the exposé reveals a series of other offenses, such as forgery of documents, when the minister adds to summaries the words ‘according to the recommendation of professionals,’ even when there is no such recommendation, or when the recommendation is the opposite.

“There is also a suspicion of fraudulently obtaining a benefit and even extortion by threats. In some cases, the minister’s actions could amount to additional criminal charges when there is a risk to human life due to flawed decisions stemming from extraneous interests.

“The huge budget of one of the largest and most important ministries of the State of Israel has become a tool in Miri Regev’s hands to promote her personal interests, at the serious expense of the public, safety, vital infrastructure, and public transportation. The damage caused here to the public is enormous,” Dr. Karniel said. “The importance lies in the corruption of an entire ministry, of the minister’s office as a whole, and of government departments working with the ministry and being dependent on its decisions. We are talking about tens of billions of shekels and thousands of employees who depend on the decisions of the Transportation Ministry.”

Dr. Karniel blamed centralization of power for enabling these kinds of issues to occur in public service, saying: “All local authorities and transportation infrastructure in Israel depend on the ministry and the minister’s office. This is the most centralized mechanism in the Western world,”.

He continued: “A head of a local authority cannot move a traffic light or sign without approval, and many of the infrastructures connecting communities are centralized [in the minister’s] hands. Even the transportation infrastructure budgets are centralized under the ministry’s and minister’s control.”

In response, Regev released a statement saying: “It is regrettable that a few weeks after the publication of Raviv Drucker’s false exposé, the Israel Police came to search for documents that do not exist at the Transportation Ministry. The truth is simple – this is a fabricated exposé; there was no preference on a political basis. The Transportation Ministry allocates its budgets in accordance with policy and the decision of the professionals, and any other claim is false. The Transportation Ministry will cooperate with the investigation in order to prove how baseless the claims raised by Drucker in his exposé are.”

In her time as Transportation Minister, the Ministry has faced heat for long delays in the Tel Aviv area Light Rail projects, and in the planned Tel-Aviv area Metro. The Ministry has also spent large amounts of money on highway widening projects, while attempting to downgrade the upcoming Chaifa-Nazareth light rail to a bus rapid transit, although it looks like that project will proceed as planned.

{Matzav.com}


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