Interior Minister a suspect in graft probe

It is alleged government funds went to an educational facility headed by Mr Deri's wife


The Israeli Interior Minister and leader of the Orthodox party Shas, Arye Deri, was questioned at length by police on Monday over allegations of irregularities in real estate deals, tax evasion and misuse of government funds.

His wife, Yaffa, and 14 other suspects were also questioned.

One of the main allegations is that government funds, as well as donations from some of Israel’s most powerful businesspeople and largest private corporations, went to an educational foundation headed by Mrs Deri. The charity also employs three of her daughters.

Among the suspects questioned were Ariel Mishal, Director-General of the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry, of which Mr Deri is also the minister, and Moshe Leon, a Jerusalem city council member who was once director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The investigation into the affairs of the Deris has been ongoing for over a year. Mr Deri has denied any impropriety.

Mr Deri was the youngest minister in Israeli history when he became interior minister for the first time in 1988 at the age of 29. Two years later, he was forced to resign after being indicted for receiving bribes from a yeshiva that received funds from the ministry.

He was convicted and spent two years in prison. In 2012 he returned to politics and was restored as Shas leader. Last year, became Interior Minister once again.

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