Nine people were arrested Tuesday, including the vice president of a major commercial bank, as police broke up an alleged corruption ring involving Eilat municipal officials.
The Mercantile Discount executive was arrested along with the eight other suspects during a raid on Eilat city hall and the bank’s offices over suspected bribery, tender rigging and other violations. Another eight people were detained for questioning in the matter.
A statement from the bank’s parent company Israel Discount Bank, said that police investigators arrived Tuesday at the offices of Mercantile Discount Bank, where they conducted searches, collected documents and computer data and detained employees for questioning.
The bank said it had not been provided with information regarding the details of the investigation, including the nature of the suspicions.
The Eilat raid came after the Israel Police Lahav 433 crime unit accumulated a substantial amount of alleged evidence raising suspicions of corruption within Eilat municipality and several affiliated bodies.
The investigation is being conducted by Lahav’s National Unit for Combating Financial Crimes, in collaboration with the Israel Tax Authority.
The detainees are suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as offenses under the Prohibition on Money Laundering Law and offenses under the tax laws.
The detainees include very senior public servants in Eilat local authority as well as two major contractors in the city who were arrested on suspicion of bribery.
The city hall suspects are accused of rigging public tenders in favor of the two contractors and other business owners in exchange for kickbacks and other benefits.
Eilat Municipality said that it is not aware of the details of the investigation at this time.
"We do not have any details related to the investigation at present," Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi said. "I am sure that the police will get to the truth as it completes its investigation.”