Netanyahu rival Gantz under fire for possible improper business dealings

Israel’s State Comptroller accused the Israeli police and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz of improper dealings surrounding an intelligence company Gantz chaired.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel State Comptroller Joseph Shapira published a report on Wednesday that castigates the Israeli police for having an improper relationship with a company headed by Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz before it went bankrupt last December.

Although the company, Fifth Dimension, an intelligence gathering and analysis business of which Gantz was chairman, was not mentioned by name in the comptroller’s report, the timelines and issues that are described match the company’s known dealings with the police.

The comptroller found several troubling aspects to the relationship between Gantz’s company and the police. The one that may prove most potentially damaging to Gantz is that “Company A,” as it’s referred to in the report, made false statements to the police in order to win the rights to carry out a pilot project with it.

The report, quoting from an internal police document, said that the company had misstated when it was founded, said it had five governmental-authority level clients when it didn’t, and already had designed the technology the police needed when it hadn’t.

It was on this basis that Company A received NIS 4 million for the pilot project, which was successful, and if Fifth Dimension hadn’t gone under, it could have then received the full NIS 50 million to install the system.

Since the Blue and White party has made a point of castigating Netanyahu’s alleged corrupt behavior while touting the clean image of its leaders, top members of the Likud wasted no time in calling for a criminal investigation after the comptroller’s report emerged.

Likud calls for investigation

“Investigate Benny Gantz now,” the prime minister tweeted Wednesday night.

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said, “I call on Yair Lapid, Gantz’s number two… who made integrity his flagship, to not be hypocritical, to not be two-faced. Don’t have one standard for Netanyahu and another for Benny Gantz…Take Gantz’s Case 50 Million seriously. If you’re fair, join our call to open a criminal investigation of the head of your party.”

The State Comptroller also blasted the favoritism showed by the police towards Fifth Dimension.

Under the explicit direction of then-Police Chief Ronny Alsheikh, Company A received the contract without it first going through a competitive bidding process, or tender.

The comptroller also said that official minutes showed that Gantz and other senior company representatives were improperly allowed to participate in a professional discussion among senior officers of national police headquarters regarding the system.

Read  Secret meetings: Gantz, Bennett talk Saudi normalization with US

Israel’s police responded that there were several stages in the deal, and it was only the pilot project that received a tender exemption that was approved by the Israel Police office exemption committee.

They and Fifth Dimension also told the State Comptroller’s Office that nobody discussed the procurement aspects (that the company should not have been privy to) when the company’s representatives were present.