Police detained 14 suspects related to an undeclared income and assets scandal involving Chairman of Shas and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, along with his wife, Yaffa.
Both are expected to be questioned by investigators from the Israel Police’s Lahav 433 unit Monday morning.
Two of those detained for questioning include a director-general of a government ministry and a senior businessman.
Police are investigating funds being siphoned from the ministry to the Deri family and associates.
The new developments are expected to surprise Deri and his wife, who are being investigated as part of a Tax Authority probe into money laundering and false reports about income and assets.
Following new findings from the investigation, the Deri couple may also be investigated for bribery.
This is not the first time Aryeh Deri has been implicated in financial “irregularities.” However, this is the first time Yaffa Deri has been under the strain of police and tax authority investigators.
At the request of the Justice Ministry, forensic accountants have begun to check the books of several non-profit organizations associated with her, finding suspicious transactions worth hundreds of thousands of shekels in the early 2000s.
Police issued a statement Monday morning confirming the detaining of the suspects as part of a joint operation between Lahav 433’s National Fraud Investigations Unit and the Tax Authority.
“This is an investigation that began in April 2016 and was originally based on reasonable suspicion of tax offenses mainly in the area of property.
Following a broadening of suspicions, more suspects were identified including public officials and the minister’s wife.”
One incident in particular that has drawn heavy scrutiny from police involves a real estate deal conducted by Deri in which assets were transferred by Deri himself to his brother Shlomo.
Another incident being investigated centers on the construction of a Deri family vacation home in the northern community of Kfar Hoshen.
Deri claims his whole family contributed to the construction of the home, not just himself.’
According to estimates, the value of the home is roughly NIS 4 million. It was built in 2013 following permits being granted to Deri’s daughter and her husband.
The Tax Authority suspects that Deri and his family financed construction of the home through undeclared assets.
In addition to real estate in the north, the investigation into Deri and his wife also includes the Givat Shaul neighborhood in Jerusalem.
According to suspicions, Deri had rights to land containing a building with five apartments. Tax Authority officials suspect that Deri illegally transferred the apartments to his brother Shlomo just before his return to politics.
Police and tax investigators have questioned Deri’s brother, his daughter and several Jerusalem-area contractors in connection with the case.
In response to his questioning with police, a statement was issued on behalf of Deri saying, “The Interior Minister has said from the beginning that he is willing to fully cooperate and answer all questions.
He trusts the law enforcement system to do its job responsibly and properly.”