The Israel Police and the Israel Tax Authority recommended Tuesday to indict Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) for fraud and breach of trust, perjury, tax evasion and money laundering.
According to the police, the investigation found sufficient evidence to charge Deri with fraud and breach of trust over his conduct towards a businessman while serving as a minister; tax offenses amounting to millions of shekels; money laundering; obstruction of justice; and perjury in the false written declarations he submitted to the State Comptroller and Knesset speaker about his assets and earnings.
Police said that Deri "was specifically told not to talk to one of the involved parties about the issues under investigation for fear of evidence tampering, but the minister approached that involved party immediately after his questioning and discussed with him the things said in the questioning and his expected testimony to the police, as well as 'refreshed' his memory."
The investigation also found sufficient evidence to indict the minister's brother, attorney Shlomo Deri, who serves as the vice chairman of Karen Kayemeth LeIsrael, for tax offenses amounting to millions of shekels.
Police also said there's sufficient evidence to charge other suspects with money laundering and tax offenses.
The affair began with a covert investigation by the police and the Money Laundering and Terror Finance Prohibition Authority over suspicions of unusual activity in the bank accounts of Minister Deri and his family members.
Investigators noticed transfers of hundreds of thousands of shekels from businessmen to the minister's family—some before his return to politics and some after.
Investigators also looked into sale and acquisition deals of lots in Jerusalem and Safsufa (Kfar Hoshen), Deri's statements to the Knesset speaker and state comptroller, missing reports in capital statements to the Tax Authority, and more.
The investigation became public in April 2016, following which dozens of suspects were questioned. In May 2017, Deri was first questioned under warning.
"The suspicions necessitated a thorough, complex and demanding investigation, which was conducted by the Lahav 433 unit along with the Tax Authority and prosecutors from the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Taxation and Economics Division," a shared statement said.
The police are still investigating other suspicions concerning Deri, which they say are part of a different case.
Deri's office said in response: "We welcome the conclusion of the police investigation, which lasted almost three years. We were pleased to learn the suspicions of accepting bribes, theft from NGOs and others—which at the time were what led to the opening of the investigation—have been shelved. We believe that when the prosecution examines the matter, the other suspicions will be removed as well, and it would become clear Minister Deri did not break the law."
Shlomo Deri's attorney, Yaron Kosteliz, also siad he was confident the prosecution would reach the conclusion his client committed no offense and forego an indictment.
In 2000, Aryeh Deri was sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as interior minister. He was released from prison in 2002, after serving 22 months, but returned to politics only in 2011. He was re-elected to the Knesset in 2013. After the 2015 elections, Shas became a member of the government and Deri was appointed minister of the economy and minister of the development of the Negev and Galilee. He returned to the Interior Ministry in January 2016.