Former MK and government minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer is likely to be indicted for several counts of fraud, bribery, money-laundering, and breach of trust, officials in the Attorney General's office said Wednesday. The indictments will be issued pending a hearing, at which Ben-Eliezer will get to tell his side of the story on bribes he allegedly took while National Infrastructures Minister in 2006.
Reports Sunday said that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein was “likely” to pursue charges against Ben-Eliezer, but added that there was a strong possibility that no action would be taken, due to his advanced age and poor medical condition. On Wednesday, Weinstein's office announced that Ben-Eliezer's would not be a factor in the decision to prosecute him.
Ben-Eliezer has claimed that large sums he received while Infrastructures Minister – from companies and individuals seeking government contracts – were “donations.” He allegedly took the money and hid it in relatives' bank accounts, in an attempt to hide the sums. For that action, he is likely to be charged with money-laundering.
Weinstein made the decision to indict despite attempts from Ben-Eliezer's representatives to push for an agreement that would forego filing an indictment because of the former politician's poor medical state.
Instead, the Attorney General chose to accept a months-old prosecutorial recommendation for indictment, following an investigation that began during the 2014 presidential race. Ben-Eliezer, a candidate in that race, was forced to resign after allegations against him surfaced.
Ben-Eliezer's career in public service spanned some 30 years. He was an officer in the IDF, and served as a minister in seven government offices. Attorneys for Ben-Eliezer expressed confidence that he would beat the charges, saying that “never has there been any suspicion expressed of his activities while he was in office, or for a long time thereafter.” In a statement, the former minister said that he was “determined” to clear his name, and expressed confidence that the matter would be dropped after his hearing.