Former finance minister indicted for theft and fraud

Wednesday, June 04, 2008 |  staff writer

Former Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson has been indicted on charges of embezzling over $1.2 million while serving as head of National Labor Federation and is accused of pocketing half of it.

Hirchson, who is still a member of the Knesset, relinquished his parliamentary immunity, opting to stand trial. He pled not guilty on all counts.

The indictment against Hirchson comes at during the probe of financial misconduct of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, which continues, shining a light on alleged corruption at high levels of government.

According to the indictment, Hirchson is suspected of embezzling a little over NIS 4 million (over $1.2 million) while working as head of the National Labor Federation, between 1998 and 2005. The indictment says that Hirchson and 11 others conspired to pilfer the funds, cashedg various checks and transfered some of the funds to Hirchson personally.

"The defendants carried our various acts of money laundering in an attempt to hide the true nature of the funds," said the State Prosecutor's Office. "They knowingly handled restricted property and falsified corporate records in the process."

According to the indictment, Hirchson also received "holiday bonuses" totaling more than $40,00 and travel bonuses of up to $3,000 for each of the 50 trips he took abroad between 2000 and 2004. He is also accused of turning in receipts for meals at 112 restaurants, including one for more than $2,000.

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