Ofer Nimrodi, the former publisher, editor-in-chief and one of the owners of Israeli daily newspaper Maariv, and a very well-known Israeli businessman, was arrested Monday for allegedly bribing attorney Ronel Fisher.
Police suspect Nimrodi paid Fisher cash in return for information on police investigations against him. He was remanded to a two-day house arrest. The Ministry Of Justice’s Police Internal Investigations Department said Nimrodi was suspected of bribery and obstruction of justice, and that the investigation against him and other persons in the matter was ongoing.
Two businessmen, brothers who are involved in real estate, were also arrested along with Nimrodi; as was Shay Baras, the former CEO of the government-owned National Roads Company of Israel. Baras is suspected of paying a police officer for information on police investigations.
Fisher is also under arrest in cases in which he is suspected of bribing senior police officers, who then supplied him with information about investigations concerning his clients.
It was revealed in recent days that the prosecution has enlisted a state’s witness in the case against Fisher. The witness was Fisher’s former right-hand woman in his law office, and she provided Police Internal Investigations Department investigators with information on other cases in which senior police officers were allegedly involved, including officers in the police’s leading investigative units that also deal with organized crime.
Fisher, a well-known attorney, was originally arrested on suspicions relating to the case of former Ashdod Port union chief Alon Hassan. Fisher is suspected of asking Hassan, who is the target of several ongoing criminal investigations, for money to pay off certain police officials in return for having the investigations dropped.
Last week, retired Superintendent Eran Malka, who served in the Lahav 443 investigations unit was also arrested. Lahav 433, popularly known as Israel’s FBI, is a unit incorporating the fraud, financial, and serious and international crimes units. He was suspected of supplying Fisher with information he used for his clients’ defense.
It was reported this week that the Justice Ministry is considered turning Malka into a state’s witness too, if he can provide information about even more senior police officers involved in the Fisher affair – in return for lenient treatment. Malka had remained silent during questioning until Monday, when after developments in the case he began to answer police questions and suggested that he become a state’s witness. The Justice Ministry is waiting for more information in the investigation before making a decision concerning Malka.
Nimrodi’s lawyers said he had answered all the police’s questions and denied any connection with the affair, and was released after questioning.
Nimrodi was one of the owners of Israel Lands Development Corporation, which owned Maariv. He was arrested in 1995 on suspicions of conducting illegal wiretapping as part of the fierce competition between Maariv and Yedioth Aharonoth. Three years later he was convicted and sentenced to eight months in prison, and suspended himself as editor of the paper.
In late 1999, Nimrodi was arrested again on suspicions of bribery, attempted murder, obstruction of justice, and other charges. In a plea bargain agreement in which he admitted to the relatively minor offenses, he was convicted for obstruction of justice, fraud, and harassing a witness, and sentenced to 25 months in prison. He was released in 2002 after serving two-thirds of his sentence.