Haim Katz to receive suspended sentence, fine in plea deal

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed an indictment against the Likud MK and former Minister Haim Katz with the Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court on Tuesday on one count of misdemeanor fraud as part of a plea deal.

Part of the deal includes Katz waiving his parliamentary immunity and an agreement by the parties to seek a sentence that includes a fine and a suspended prison sentence, but without serving jail time.

The actual final charge in the deal was a conspiracy to achieve a goal that was in itself legal, but by illegal means, related to Katz’s abuse of his power as a former chairman of the Knesset Social Welfare Committee.

Katz also continues to serve as a key power broker within the Likud, with an important role in when the Likud primaries may occur.

On September 30, Mandelblit told the Superior Court of Justice that he could close a deal with Katz in the next three weeks.

MK Haim Katz at this immunity hearing at the Knesset, February 4, 2020 (credit: KNESSET PRESS SERVICE / ADINA VALMAN)

In October 2020, Mandelblit announced that he was leaning towards indicting senior Likud MK and former Minister Katz for NIS 2.2 million in tax fraud.

In February 2020, under the previous government, the Knesset voted to grant Katz immunity from a previous indictment that Mandelblit had chosen to bring.

If no agreement is reached, Mandelblit has also told the court that it can once again try to remove Katz’s immunity from the previous impeachment with the new Knesset, as well as indict him under the new charges of tax fraud at the same time. .

According to an earlier statement from the Ministry of Justice, between 2007 and 2018, Katz earned significant rental income from seven real estate properties in his name and on behalf of certain family members.

The statement said that with respect to some of the properties, Katz had not reported his rental income in full to the tax authorities, while with others he had only reported partially and significantly late.

Earlier, lawyer Navit Negev said that the charges were administrative and not criminal, and that the only reason the charges had been introduced into the criminal sphere was Katz’s political status.

He added that the allegations would be refuted and the pre-indictment hearing, noting that even the ministry’s statement had acknowledged that some of the properties were not in Katz’s name.

In August 2019, Mandelblit announced that he would bring the earlier and even more serious indictment against Katz for fraud and breach of trust.

According to that indictment, Katz had violated conflict of interest principles in his business dealings with Motti Ben Ari of Equital Ltd. on several occasions and covered up for illegal financial gain for both of them. This narrative was highlighted in the amended indictment filed as part of the plea agreement.

Katz strongly supported a 2010 reform of the country’s insolvency laws that was allegedly specifically aimed at helping Ben Ari and Ben Ari’s company, in which Katz himself also had large investments.

This would mean that Katz helped promote the legislation to personally benefit himself and his top financial adviser and close friend.

In the past, a spokeswoman for Katz noted that the Knesset had not only granted him immunity in February 2020, but also said that he had not even committed an ethical violation.

Although the Knesset saved Katz from the prosecution going to court at the time, Mandelblit’s decision itself forced him to resign from his ministerial portfolio, and the new Knesset could have revised the previous Knesset’s grant of immunity.

The new tax charges may not have given Katz a chance for parliamentary immunity, as the tax violations, unlike the previous charges, were not related to his role as a civil servant.

Mandelblit’s August 2019 decision had already cleared Katz of charges in a third matter, the Israel Aerospace Industries case, in which the police had recommended that he be charged.


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