Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Israeli Foreign Ministry's latest sex scandal: Uriel Yitzhaki, Israeli consul to The Hague, being investigated for crimes including statutory rape


At 5:02 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

see Israeli Foreign Ministry's last few scandals at: http://jewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com/2005/02/israeli-foreign-affairsrefuse.html#comments

Mon., April 25, 2005 Nisan 16, 5765

Foreign Ministry worker questioned over illegal passport

By Jonathan Lis and Roni Singer, Haaretz Correspondents

Police on Monday questioned a Foreign Ministry employee for allegedly issuing a passport illegally. Roni Yedidyah, who previously worked in the European department of the ministry's consular unit, is suspected of breach of trust.

Police suspect Yedidyah of issuing the passport at the request of Israel's consul to The Hague, Uriel Yitzhaki, who has been arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes in exchange for issuing Israeli passports unlawfully.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court decided Monday to extend Yitzhaki's remand by three days.

During the remand hearing, police revealed that they also suspected Yitzhaki of additional instances of bribery and sexual harassment.

The police's international investigations unit suspects that Yitzhaki issued Israeli passports in exchange for bribes and other benefits over a long period of time. He is also suspected of fraud, breach of trust, statutory rape, abuse of his position and money laundering.

Yitzhaki denies the allegations against him.

Police are also investigating whether some of the people for whom Yitzhaki allegedly issued the passports are related to criminals. Police do not have accurate information to support their suspicions, but investigators say Yitzhak had a reputation across Europe for issuing passports in exchange for payment.

Yitzhaki was arrested at the airport last week as he arrived in Israel to celebrate the Passover holiday with his family. Yitzhaki refused Monday to answer reporters' questions.

Israeli police officers, who have dubbed the case The Flying Dutchman, have been investigating Yitzhaki for more than six months, in close collaboration with the Dutch police.

Tue., April 26, 2005 Nisan 17, 5765

Foreign Min. official questioned over sale of passports

By Jonathan Lis

A senior consular official at the Foreign Ministry, Roni Yedidya, was questioned under caution yesterday at the International Crimes Division of the police.

Yedidya, who headed the European division of the consular section at the ministry, is suspected of issuing a passport in contravention of the law and of breach of trust. It is believed she acted at the behest of the Israeli consul in The Hague, Uriel Yitzhaki, who was arrested on Wednesday. Yitzhaki is suspected of issuing dozens of illegal passports in return for bribes, and of exploiting his position of authority to have sex.

At a remand hearing yesterday in Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court, police representatives said that Yitzhaki appeared to have been involved in a series of additional crimes. These included another bribery affair, theft, and charges by women employees of sexual harassment. Yitzhaki denied the charges.

The investigation against Yitzhaki was conducted clandestinely and in cooperation with Dutch police over the past few months. Yitzhaki assumed the position of consul for administrative affairs in the Dutch capital in August 2002, and police believe he succeeded in issuing 150 falsified passports since then. In return, he is thought to have received tens of thousands of shekels, as well as additional benefits such as staying at luxury hotels. A local moving firm is also thought to have been involved.

Police say they have proof in at least two cases where Israelis were given passports to which they were not entitled because they had not lived in Israel for a year. Yitzhaki is also suspected of laundering bribes he received by putting them in accounts in Israel.

The husband of a woman who allegedly had consensual sex with Yitzhaki after he used his authority for this purpose lodged three complaints with Dutch police against the consul for various crimes. However, Yitzhaki appears to have avoided interrogation by invoking diplomatic immunity.

Most vidence against Yitzhaki is still in the hands of Dutch police, and has not yet been sent to Israel. During yesterday's remand hearings, it transpired that Yitzhaki had originally cooperated with police after his arrest but, on the advice of his lawyer, is now refusing to talk. His remand was extended three days.

(04.25.05, 17:42)

Consul scandal widens

European division head questioned in connection to consul bribery scandal; earlier court extends remand of consul for three days
By Efrat Weiss

PETACH TIKVA - The head of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe division, Roni Yedidya, was questioned Monday by the police’s international crime squad in connection to the bribery scandal involving Israel’s consul in The Netherlands, Uriel Yitzhaki.

Yedidya, who served as division head in 2003, was questioned on suspicion of assisting Yitzhaki and illegally issuing a passport.

Earlier, the Petach Tikva Magistrates Court extended Yitzhaki's remand for three days.

This is the second time police have extended his detention, following his arrest last week at Ben Gurion International Airport upon his arrival to Israel.

Yitzhaki is suspected of abusing his authority as consul and supplying Israeli passports to those not eligible for them, in exchange for large sums of money and perks.

Snowball Effect

Police attorney Yael Reichert said she had originally requested a remand period of ten days, as Yitzhaki has refused to cooperate during questioning.

She said the investigation is scheduled to continue both in Israel and in Holland, despite the Pesach holiday.

“What started as a preliminary investigation with suspicious findings, now resembles a snowball that keeps on rolling and gathering snow,” she said.

Additional evidence has been collected, which indicates other bribery cases, theft and additional sexual harassment complaints by consular workers, she said.

Yitzhaki is also suspected of receiving bribes

from the Interdin transportation company during his tenure as consul.

Right to remain silent

Yitzhaki was questioned in court Monday about his connections to bribery suspicions and his acquaintance with a female embassy worker who filed the initial complaint.

Yitzhaki allegedly had an affair with the woman, which according to him, ended badly.

He refused to answer questions regarding whether he had received benefits and money in return for supplying Israeli passports, saying only that his lawyer advised him to remain silent.

Alternative detention

Yitzhaki’s lawyer Yaakov Weinroth said he had requested the court look into alternative detention options.

However, Reichert said that as there are more than a dozen pending investigations into the matter, both in Israel and Holland, it was feared that Yitzhaki may attempt to disrupt them should he be freed.

"We are talking about a man with many ties and gathered evidence indicates that he may try to disrupt the investigation, and influence his sentencing in Israel and abroad,” one police official said.

However, the court only partially accepted the police’s request and agreed to extend his remand for three days, instead of the requested ten.

Apr. 25, 2005

Yitzhaki affair: Senior official probed

Police's International Serious Crime Unit was interrogating Roni Yedidia, former head of the European Department at the Foreign Ministry for allegedly assisting Hague Consul Uriel Yitzhakzi illegally issue Israeli passports.

Police said the suspicions against Yedidia were fraud related and she was questioned by police in Petah Tikva.

Earlier Monday, the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court extended Yitzhaki's remand by an additional three days.

Yitzhaki is charged with receiving bribes in return for allegedly selling over 150 passports, in addition to fraud and breach of trust.

By extending his remand, Army Radio reported, the court accepted the police's position that argued against Yitzhaki's release to house arrest, out of the concern he would coerce witnesses.

During the hearing, the police representative said that another suspicion is currently being examined by which Yitzhaki may be involved in another bribing affair involving a moving company. She added that several female employees at the consulate have complained that Yitzhaki had sexually harassed them.

Yitzhaki's attorney, Yaakov Weinrot, estimated that the source of these accusations was a "painful romantic episode that resulted in wicked plot that has no basis."

So far, Yitzhaki has not cooperated with the police and has refused to answer the interrogators' questions, Israel Radio reported.

During the hearing, the name of the person who exposed the affair was revealed: Victoria Stephanski, a consulate employee.

In an undercover operation codenamed "The Flying Dutchman" the police's International Serious Crimes Unit arrested Yitzhaki after he arrived in Israel late Tuesday night for allegedly misusing his consular position to illegally sell over 150 passports.

Yitzhaki is suspected of receiving tens of thousands of dollars in addition to other perks in exchange for issuing passports to criminal elements and people who were not entitled to them.

Police also suspect that Yitzhaki, a veteran and high-ranking foreign ministry official, had an illegal sexual relationship with a female subordinate of his at the Hague embassy.

In addition to the fraud, Yitzhaki is accused of threatening the lives of several individuals involved in the passport affair and of laundering millions of shekels.

The investigation, launched in July, was under a tight gag order, which was lifted Wednesday morning.

Police launched the investigation after receiving intelligence information that Yitzhaki, 56, had used his position as head of consular affairs in the Dutch embassy to issue passports to people ineligible to receive them.

Fri., April 22, 2005 Nisan 13, 5765

Police probe whether The Hague consul sold passports to criminals
By Roni Singer

The police's National Serious & International Crimes Unit yesterday continued its interrogation of Uriel Yitzhaki, Israel's consul general in The Hague who is suspected of receiving bribes for issuing illegal passports. The probe is currently focused on ascertaining whether any of the recipients of the passports were criminals.

At present, no specific information supports the allegations against Yitzhaki, but the police know that in Europe, the Foreign Ministry officials was considered a source for buying passports.

The police are also trying to ascertain why Interior Ministry failed to discover the illegal transactions. As reported earlier, Yitzhaki allegedly produced "parallel" passports to ones already issued in Israel such that an identical passport number served two different people. The police will also investigate whether Yitzhaki began these activities when stationed at Israel's embassies in Vienna and Nairobi.

On Wednesday, the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court extended Yitzhaki's remand by six days.

Yitzhaki's attorney, Yaakov Weinroth, said his client denied the allegations and that the affair began with a complaint of a consulate employee who had had an affair with the suspect and sought revenge. Yitzhaki is also suspected of other felonies such as abusing his authority to gain sexual favors, fraud and breach of trust, money laundering and intimidation.

Thu., April 21, 2005 Nisan 12, 5765

Israeli consul to The Hague arrested for selling passports
By Roni Singer

Israel's consul general to The Hague was arrested yesterday on suspicion of accepting bribes.

Officers from Israel Police's International Crimes Unit were waiting for Uriel Yitzhaki as he arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport from the Netherlands as he arrived for a visit .

Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court remanded him yesterday in custody for six days.

The arrest was the culmination of an extensive investigation into allegations that Yitzhaki, 56, accepted cash and perks in exchange for issuing Israeli passports to people who were not entitled to them.

Details of the investigation were released for publication yesterday. A police statement said Yitzhaki had been arrested on suspicion of "accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust."

The investigation, code-named "The Flying Dutchman," began in July 2004 when a woman working with Yitzhaki complained that he had tried to use his senior position to force her to have sexual relations with him, Israel Radio reported.

Police detectives have collected evidence apparently showing that Yitzhaki had issued some 150 Israeli passports to people who were not entitled to them in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars and perks such as stays in luxury hotels. The investigation was also a joint effort by the Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry.

Police are also checking whether Yitzhaki sold Israeli passports during his previous postings to New York, Vienna, Nairobi and Singapore.

Yitzhaki appeared surprised when he was approached by plainclothes detectives at the airport and informed he was under arrest, said Amichai Shai, head of the International Crimes Unit.


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