Top official gets in trouble with mob
Ynet exclusive: Police launch probe after PM's Office director in north disappears over huge debts to underworld figures; Eli Dahan, a former Likud activist and associate of Omri Sharon, subjected to death threats. Dahan to Ynet: I changed money to help family members in distress, and I got into a mess. I'll return all the money this week
Ynet exclusive: Police investigators have launched a probe into what may be one of the most serious scandals involving a senior government official and his ties with the mob.
Prime Minister's Office director in the north Eli Dahan, a former Likud activist and associate of PM Ariel Sharon's son Omri, has disappeared over huge debts he incurred. Dahan apparently borrowed millions of shekels from underworld figures, with some of them filing a complaint with police. Others, however, have threatened Dahan's life.
Among those filing a complaint against Dahan is Deputy Minister Eli Aflalo from the Kadima partry, a former Likud member who is Dahan's former political patron. According to the deputy minister, Dahan introduced him as a business partner in order to secure loans. Aflalo says he received threatening phone calls in recent days demanding he pay back his "partner's debts."
'We'll kill you'
Police officials are also examining whether Dahan took advantage of his senior position in order to advance his private interests.
The probe into the affair was launched following threatening messages left on the doors of the Prime Minister's Office in the northern district. Employees at the office were stunned to find signs posted on the door with messages such as "Stop cheating people," "We'll kill you," and "Eli is a swindler and a liar."
Dahan himself has been away from the office for weeks and has been relaying instructions to employees through the phone. His cell phone is unavailable most of the time and employees at the office have no idea where he is.
"At first he was sick, and then he said he had a car accident. We haven't seen him for a month," one source at the office said.
Officials at Prime Minister's Office, meanwhile, told Ynet they are unfamiliar with the affair.
"In any event, it's doubtful whether Dahan will continue in his post after he's found," the officials said.
Dahan said that he "changed money to help family members in distress, and I got into a mess. I'll return all the money this week."
So where did you go wrong?
"I gave checks. Some of them were redeemed and some returned. Some of the money that came back, I returned in meetings I had with business owners. And I was supposed to return the rest of the money on the 15th of the month. Only on the same day, I underwent a serious car accident and was hospitalized in the Emek hospital."
One of the changers who lent Dahan money is David Ben-Yosef, who arrived at the office in Nazareth Ilit in order to demand the debt, which he claims stands at NIS 2.6 million. Dahan denies Ben-Yosef's claims.
"I changed dollars with him, but he's lying. I don't owe him NIS 2.6 million (about USD 550). The number 2 should be removed. On all the dollars I bought, I paid by check. It's all documented. They say I changed USD 3 million. If it comes to USD 2 million, I'll decapitate myself right now."
Is he the only one who you changed money with?
"I had contact with other changers."
How much money did you change with them?
"I don't remember. I have to check the lists."
Why did you need the money?
"I was enlisted to help my family and because of their honor I won't go into details. To my sorrow at the end of the day I got into this mess."
There are claims you changed the money to buy a piece of land.
"I live in a rented apartment, my wife has no car, and I as a father of two children am the owner breadwinner in the house. There were thoughts of buying a piece of property, but between thoughts and reality a large distance lies. I didn't make any deals, and this can be checked with property taxes."