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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Police Recommend Former Chief Rabbi be indicted For Taking Bribes

Rabbi Yona Metzger

The Israel Police announced on Tuesday it had completed its investigation into former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, recommending that he be tried for accepting bribes and other offenses.

Metzger was arrested last November on suspicion of bribe-taking, money-laundering and fraud during his term as Ashkenazi chief rabbi, from 2003 until June 2013, when he stepped down in light of the investigation against him.

Lahav 433, the police unit often referred to as the "Israeli FBI," conducted a months-long inquiry into allegations that Metzger accepted monetary and material bribes in exchange for advancing the interests of several non-profit organizations.

The bribes totaled several million shekels, according to police. Metzger also allegedly tried to silence witnesses and interfere in the investigation, according to reports.

Police questioned Metzger about the case in June, around the end of his stint as chief rabbi, and placed him under house arrest.

Metzger has denied the allegations against him.

Police said the findings of the investigation painted an increasingly clear picture that Metzger "allegedly received, over the years, illegal sums worth millions of shekels in exchange for performing activities and making decisions in various areas related to his role as chief rabbi – donations, conversions, rabbinic appointments, corrupt ties to tycoons" and more.

Police believe there is enough evidence to substantiate the charges against Metzger.

Investigators have transferred the case to the Jerusalem District prosecutor's office for review, after which it will be transferred to the attorney general for a final decision on whether to indict Metzger.

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