The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally sought to implement the law. Impunity was not a problem. Media routinely reported on corruption. The national police, the state comptroller, the attorney general, and the finance ministry accountant general were responsible for combating official corruption. Senior officials were subject to comprehensive financial disclosure laws. There were no reports of judicial corruption during 2009, but during the year the government investigated and prosecuted several senior political figures for alleged misconduct.
On 24 June 2009, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced former finance minister Abraham Hirchson to five years and five months in prison for stealing 1.8 million NIS (approximately $460,000) from the National Labor Federation. Hirchson was convicted by the Tel Aviv District Court of larceny, executive theft, fraud, breach of trust, illicitly obtaining funds, money laundering, and falsifying corporate documents. On September 24, while serving the sentence, Hirchson began an appeal process.
On 02 August 2009, police recommended to the attorney general that he indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on bribery, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and other charges. There was no decision at year's end.
On 30 August 2009, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz indicted former prime minister Ehud Olmert along with his former chief of staff, Shula Zaken, on three charges involving breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents, and fraudulent conduct. Olmert was also charged with tax evasion, and Zaken was charged with illegal eavesdropping. At year's end, two other charges were dropped, while one investigation regarding Olmert's political appointments remained pending. Olmert and Zaken both pled not guilty to all charges. At year's end, the trial continued. An additional six persons were indicted on related charges, including former tax authority chief Jacky Matza, three tax authority officials and two businessmen.
On 01 September 2009, former minister Shlomo Benizri began serving a four-year prison term after his conviction in 2008 on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust for crimes committed between 1996 and 2001, when he was minister of health and minister of social affairs. The court initially fined Benizri 80,000 NIS ($20,000) and sentenced him to 18 months in prison, but the government appealed and the High Court of Justice increased the fine to 250,000 NIS (approximately $66,000) and increased his sentence to four years.
At the end of 2009, former president Moshe Katsav's trial continued for obstruction of justice, rape, and sexual assault (see section 6, women).
At the end of 2009, the trial of Knesset member Tzachi Hanegbi continued. Hanegbi was on trial for fraud, breach of trust, election bribery, and politically motivated civil service appointments of members of the Likud party headquarters and their relatives while he was environmental protection minister. Hanegbi was indicted, together with his former director general, Shmuel Hershkovitz. Courts concluded the trials of members of the Knesset (MKs) Yaakov Edri and former MK Yitzhak Ziv due to lack of evidence. Investigations of MKs Ruhama Avraham, Roni Bar On, and Haim Katz ended in 2008 without criminal charges or civil penalties.
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