Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ordered on Thursday night that a criminal investigation be launched against Shas chairperson and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, upgrading the previous preliminary corruption investigation that he was subject to.
The decision was made at the end of a meeting that took place today in Mandelblit's office, after the conclusion of the preliminary police investigation.
A publication gag order remains in place on all details of the case, and even now publishing additional details regarding the specifics of the criminal investigation is off limits.
In response, Deri's office issued a statement saying that "he is ready immediately to answer any question that is asked. Minister Deri will cooperate with law enforcement sources and he is convinced that his responses will clarify that he acted without fault."
Aside from Deri, Opposition head and Zionist Union chair MK Yitzhak Herzog is also under a corruption investigation on suspicions of accepting illegal donations while running for the leadership of the Labor party in 2013.
Herzog has accused members of his own party of instigating the investigation as part of an "election campaign," and threatened to "kick" back.
Deri's investigation is in fact not his first. Just this January he returned to the post of Interior Minister 22 years after he abused the same position by taking bribes.
His previous corruption landed him in jail for three years, in a sentence that was shortened to just one year on good behavior. Following his conviction and incarceration Deri kept out of politics for a number of years, before returning to his post as Shas chairperson.