Photo: Hadar Cohen
Ezra Seidoff. Authorized to sign off on half a million shekels.
Photo: Hadar Cohen

PMO 'money man' was banned from financial dealings after 1980 graft conviction

Civil Service Commission ruled that PMO deputy director general Ezra Seidoff could not handle money, says the decision has never not appealed.

Ezra Seidoff, deputy director general for assets and operations at the Prime Minister's Office, has been repeatedly mentioned in allegations of excessive spending and even corruption by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife. But Seidoff, who started as a handyman at the PMO, has been contravening an explicit order from the Civil Service Commission to refrain from involvement in financial matters.



Seidoff, who features in a state comptroller's report as having approved excessive expenses at the Netanyahu homes in Jerusalem and Caesarea, apparently has a history of financial irregularities. In 1980, when he worked at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Seidoff was found guilty of accepting bribes from an electrical contractor. He was given a sentence of several months in jail, which was later commuted. 


Despite the serious nature of the offense for which he was convicted, Seidoff soon found work as an electrician in the Prime Minister's Office, and a short time later was picked to serve as head of the household and construction branch. But fearing he would bed tempted by handling money, in light of his conviction for bribe-taking, the Civil Service Commission ruled to ban Seidoff from dealing with financial matters, a decision that stood unless he sought to overturn it.


Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu. Financial affairs under the microscope. (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu. Financial affairs under the microscope. (Photo: AP)


In 2010, Netanyahu promoted Seidoff to deputy director general for assets and operations, contrary to the Civil Service Commission decision. He is now authorized to sign off on financial commitments to the sum of half a million shekels, despite the fact that no request has ever been made to the Commission to overturn its ban.


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According to the findings contained in the state comptroller's report and testimony from former PMO employees Menny Naftali, Guy Eliahu and Emanuel Serry, Seidoff was the one who authorized outstanding expenses at the Netanyahus' Caesarea and Jerusalem homes.


According to witness statements, he was the one who initiated contact with electrician Avi Fahima at the Caesarea home, against explicit orders, and approved by a food order from a high-end restaurant in Jerusalem despite the presence of a cook at the prime minister's official residence. In addition, Seidoff was the address for employees who needed reimbursement after buying medication and food for Netanyahu and his wife. However, Seidoff rejected the requests when presented with receipts, forcing the employees to personally absorb the expense.


Naftali also testified that Seidoff had ordered him to register a fictitious number of attendees at meals in the prime minister's residence, thereby increasing the budget for each meal and facilitating the employment of a chef and sometimes even waiters at the residence. For example, Naftali claimed, five people were present at meals that were registered at having ten people in attendance.


Seidoff has denied all allegations against him, saying that "every action I took was in accordance with procedure." He did not comment on the Civil Service Commission prohibition, only saying that he had not served time in prison.


Civil Service Commission spokesman Aryeh Greenblatt said in response: "In the 1980s, the director general of the PMO did in fact decide about Seidoff, among other things, that 'his employment in the initial period after this decision will require total separation from financial issues, and any money-linked transaction in which he is involved in the distant future must not be made without approval.'



"The Commission, having investigated, has not received any such request (to overturn its ban), and approval obviously has not been granted. At present, the disciplinary branch is looking into the matter in conjunction with the State Prosecutor."


פרסום ראשון: 02.23.15, 10:40
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