Police suspect that Yosef bribed Bitan (Likud) by paying roughly a quarter of a million shekels to fund his daughter's wedding. By signing the plea bargain, he will be sentenced to a year-and-a-half and fined.
While he will not become a state witness against Bitan, his confession will incriminate Bitan in the ongoing corruption investigation. “We are in the advanced stages of closing the deal, a moment before the signing,” said a close associate of Yosef’s on Monday evening.
Yosef agreed to sign the bargain on Monday following an exhausting round of negotiations between investigators and his legal defense team.
Bitan heard about the dramatic developments in the case, also known as Case 1803, which were first exposed by Channel 2 news during a Knesset discussion on the Recommendations Bill.
“Bitan was in shock even though he was aware that such a scenario was possible,” said one of his associates. “But to hear that it did actually happen was very hard.”
Following the broadcast of the development, Bitan was seen during a Knesset buffet with his successor and Netanyahu loyalist MK David Amsalem bemoaning the fact that he had lost 9kg in weight since the beginning of the investigation.
Bitan’s attorney, Efraim Damari, said in response: “Despite the news we are continuing with our line that MK Bitan did not take a bribe. We will wait patiently until things are said by the police rather than the media.”
Bitan is expected to be summoned for another round of questioning at the police's Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit in Lod where investigators will present him with a formal agreement of Yosef’s plea deal in a bid to pressure him into deviating from his claim to which his has adamantly stuck throughout that “I did not take a bribe.”
“Despite the news broadcast, we believe everything will be ok,” said a close associate of Bitan’s.
Yosef was convinced to put his pen to the agreement after witnessing the investigators go through every single receipt in his furniture shop corroborating the allegations leveled against him, and realized that his prison sentence would also be accompanied by his total financial demise.
Fearing that the income tax he owed “would leave him and his family without a single shekel in light of the illicit capital he had accumulated and the potential confiscation of finances and property,” Yosef chose the bargain, explained a source close to the investigation.
Yosef, who earned the nickname “David Bitan’s banker,” is expected to confess to coordinating dozens of bribery cases between Bitan and contractors and businessmen. According to the suspicion, he received the bribe money and passed it on to Bitan, kerping a little for himself.
The investigators believe that the industry of bribes that Bitan had created began ten years ago when he became too deeply involved in loans on the black market, and continued all the way into the months just before he entered the Knesset.
Beyond incriminating Bitan in Yosef's confession, the prison sentence imposed on him will also determine the precedent for other cases, which is expected to be even more severe.