The State Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday it was considering filing an indictment against former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron over his alleged involvement in falsely obtaining government funds – pending a hearing.
The case in question involves security forces personnel who received forged religious education certificates.
Some 2,000 police officers, soldiers and cadets attended various religious colleges for a number of hours a week but were granted diplomas for completing five years of studies. The certificates enabled the individuals to receive pay raises from the State.
'I didn’t know the numbers'
The salary increases ranged from NIS 2,000 ($530) to 4,000 (about $1,050). The scam cost the State hundreds of millions of shekels before it was exposed.
In 2007 the Jerusalem District Prosecutor's Office filed an indictment against more than 10 rabbis who were allegedly involved in issuing the fake certificates.
Rabbi Bakshi-Doron, who was interrogated in the affair and was not charged for lack of evidence, testified in May 2010 regarding his part in the affair. By the end of the hearing the prosecution motioned to submit his testimony as evidence due to a gap between his police statement and his testimony in court.
During his police interrogation, Bakshi-Doron maintained he had no part in the affair and that his right-hand man Rabbi Yitzhak Ohana was the one who ordered the certificates. However, testifying in court the rabbi gave a slightly different version.
Attorney Erez Padan of the prosecution said that according to Rabbi Ohana's testimony Bakshi-Doron had instructed the former to compile a list of institutes attended by the security figures in order to issue them higher religious education certificates.
The attorney noted that Bakshi-Doron was the one who ordered which institutes were to be included. The rabbi then responded, "I didn’t know the numbers. I told Rabbi Ohana to seal the deal. I only thought it was a matter of another 100 students and not the extent I later learned about."
Investigators, who reopened the investigation against Bakshi-Doron in light of the new evidence, suspect he also instructed Ohana to ignore the criteria according to which higher religious education certificates are issued.
According to the investigation, Rabbi Bakshi-Doron authorized the illegal operation to avoid a confrontation with those who sponsored and managed the religious colleges attended by security personnel.