Photo: Gil Yochanan
Finance Minister Hirchson
Photo: Gil Yochanan

Finance minister to be investigated over 'Nili' affair

Former Nili Association CEO Ovadia Cohen confesses to embezzlement in 2003, claims then National Histadrut chairman, current Finance Minister Hirschson knew and did not report to police. Fraud Unit investigators to probe

Israeli Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson will be investigated by Head of Fraud Investigation Unit Brigadier General Yoav Segelovich for allegedly failing to report suspected embezzlement at the “Nili” association during his time as chairman of the Histadrut National Workers Union a few years ago.


On Sunday, Hirchson's investigation was transferred from the Tel Aviv district to the National Fraud Unit. Police sources told Ynet that this move was made with the approval of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.


It is still unclear whether Minister Hirchson's interrogation will be held at the National Fraud Unit, or in his office.


The affair began in 2003, when Ovadia Cohen, who is today's deputy mayor of the central town of Ramat Gan, and then CEO of the Nili Association, told Hirchson that he had taken NIS 5.6 million (about USD 1.3 million) from the association to cover his brother's gambling loans on the black market.


Following the incident Hirchson dismissed Cohen from his post, but according to the comptroller's report he failed to report the incident to the police.


In 2005, an accountant investigated the Nili Association and only then it became clear that the money was missing. The accountant filed a complaint to the police, and handed the material over to the State comptroller for further investigation.


Last week, Tel Aviv district Fraud police arrested a number of suspects in the matter, including Ovadia Cohen and his two brothers Zion and David, Amatzia Bonner, the association's accountant, and Shlomo Aroas, the messenger who transferred the money.


The Tel Aviv magistrate court has extended the five's arrest by eight days.


Ovadia Cohen confessed to the accusations, but claimed that only some of the money was spent on covering his brother's loans.


Information regarding the whereabouts of the rest of the money has not yet been cleared for publication.


פרסום ראשון: 01.08.07, 11:36
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