Police question retired judge, former Bar Association chair

This morning, the National Fraud Investigations Unit in the Israel Police Lahav 433 division detained for questioning retired judge Eitan Orenstein, formerly president of the Tel Aviv District Court, and Adv. Efi Naveh, formerly chairperson of the Israel Bar Association. The suspicions against the two men are of offences of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Detectives from the unit carried out searches at the homes of the suspects this morning, and took the pair for questioning to the Lahav 433 offices in Lod. The investigation was opened following newspaper reports two months ago of apparently corrupt conversations between the two men.

The conversations were exposed by “Haaretz” reporter Chaim Levinson, and gave rise to suspicions of a “give and take” relationship between Naveh and Orenstein in the process of Orenstein’s appointment as president of the Tel Aviv District Court in 2016. Orenstein asked Naveh, who at the time was a member of the judicial selection committee by virtue of his position as chairperson of the Israel Bar Association, to advance his candidacy for the post.

The reported online conversations indicate that Naveh pressured then minister of justice Ayelet Shaked over the matter. In conversations before the appointment, Orenstein asked of Naveh: “Look after me, look after me,” to which Naveh responded: “It’s not possible to look after you more than I do.”

Naveh, whose law firm specializes in torts, requested Orenstein to “move” Judge Dalia Ganot, who at the time heard torts cases in the Tel Aviv District Court. Ganot was herself a candidate for the presidency of the court. “You undertake to do that,” Naveh is quoted in Levinson’s report as telling Orenstein. “You have to understand, we’re going to support you, and she’s vengeful.” Orenstein replied: “I’m amazed that she doesn’t see it coming. What does she think, that she’ll have your support?”

In the reported conversations, Naveh told Orenstein: “It’s just necessary to change your torts department, and everything will be perfect. Let other fields benefit from her (Ganot). Why only us? She’s perfect for liquidations,” and Orenstein responded, “Right, we’ll deal with it.”

After the search committee did not recommend Ganot for the presidency of the Tel Aviv District Court, allegedly because of Naveh’s machinations, she notified the sitting president, Miriam Naor, that she would resign.

In the recordings published afterwards, Judge Orenstein is heard to say, “Efi, in that case I’ve paid off the debt.” In response, Naveh told him, “No. I’ll find a you a new one. What did you think to yourself my friend?”

It is stressed that Orenstein and Naveh are suspects only, and are entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on May 28, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

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