Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who is vying for the position of chief Sephardi rabbi, is the subject of an ongoing undercover police investigation, Army Radio reported Wednesday.
The report did not go into the details of the investigation, but noted that as part of their efforts to gather evidence, investigators were also looking into an incident that dates back to 2009 in which Yosef, who serves as the chief rabbi of Holon in central Israel, had fired a kashrut supervisor who he believed had worked against Shas during the general elections held that year.
Army Radio quoted a police source saying that the old case file included a tape of a verbal altercation between the rabbi and the kashrut supervisor.
On the tape, Yosef berates the supervisor, saying, "You think you can take on my father? How dare you! The greatest of the generation is before us and you are telling tales? I forbid it!" Yosef then goes on to dismiss the supervisor saying, "You're fired, effective as of yesterday. Go ask your father for a job, let him support you."
The kashrut supervisor filed a wrongful termination suit against the rabbi with the Labor Court. The court ruled in his favor, finding that Yosef had exceeded his authority and ordering that he pay the plaintiff damages.
While the criminal investigation that was launched in 2009 was closed, the race for the position of chief Sephardi rabbi has prompted the National Fraud Unit, whose officers are heading the current investigation against Yosef, to request the old case files.
With the election of Israel's two new chief rabbis only two weeks away, Yosef is considered the leading candidate for the position of chief Sephardi rabbi. His main rival is Rabbi Tzion Boaron, who has been endorsed by outgoing Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar.
The leading candidate for the position of chief Ashkenazi rabbi is Rabbi David Stav, who has been endorsed by Habayit Hayehudi, Yesh Atid and Hatnuah. His main rival is Rabbi David Lau, the chief rabbi of Modiin and son of former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.
Shas Chairman MK Aryeh Deri told Army Radio that Yosef was "a humble man."
"I have known him for many years,
" Deri said. "He is a good man, a former lieutenant colonel with the Israel Defense Forces. He is squeaky clean."
Both the National Fraud Unit and Yosef declined to comment on the matter.