The Lahav 443 fraud investigation unit has been investigating various matters connected with the Rishon Lezion municipality. As part of these investigations, several officials have been summoned to provide testimony, and it is from these testimonies that new information emerged regarding the alleged way in which Bitan paid off his debts.
Bitan’s debts were accumulated while he served as the chairman of the Rishon Lezion soccer team.
While he maintains that he paid off the debts with the help of his family, it later transpired he had had become entangled in the so-called grey market after borrowing money to help the club.
Bitan also allegedly cashed checks from the parents of children playing in the team at the grey market.
Initial estimates put Bitan’s debts at millions of shekels, while he claims the debts reached no more than NIS 600,000.
In 2010, an investigation was opened after police obtained information on the matter, but investigators were unable to establish reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. In 2012, the case was duly closed.
Bitan slammed the timing of the police examination on Tuesday, claiming it was done in retaliation for his public criticism of the police and his staunch defense of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is embroiled in a string of corruption investigations.
“I have no problem if they examine and investigate all they want,” Bitan said. “It is recycled material. There was an investigation in 2010, I was asked (about it), and I answered everything. There is no new information. The person who has been giving information to the police is someone I don’t know. I can only say that the timing of this whole story is not incidental. Moreover, no one will discourage me, and I will continue to represent the loyal voters.”