TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israel Police announced Wednesday that it has arrested 13 suspects associated with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries for alleged offenses ranging from fraud, money laundering and breach of trust to outright theft.
According to the police, the early morning March 13 arrests were the result of an undercover operation going back months into an array of suspected offenses involving employees, management and members of the IAI board of directors.
"This is a complex, multi-faceted investigation, broad in scope and involving a large number of instances that prompt suspicions of a cover-up for offenses of embezzlement; fraud under severe conditions; money laundering; theft by public employees; and breach of trust," the Israel Police's 443 Fraud Division noted in a public statement.
According to the police, the investigation thus far into a case known as "the 630 Affair" has uncovered "a large and varied number of involved individuals, who can be found in different levels of the company, among them, senior executives, members of the labor union, members of the board of directors, management and low-level employees."
Suspects, the police noted, included those "who were supposed to be guardians of the public trust, advisers, suppliers and service providers to IAI."
Among the arrested, according to the police, is a "former senior Israel Defense Forces officer well-known among the Israeli defense establishment."
The statement said that multiple government agencies participated in the investigation, including the Defense Ministry's Malmab Internal Industrial Security Division; the Israeli Government Companies Authority; and income tax officials.
Homes and offices of suspects were searched, as well as multiple IAI offices, including headquarters offices, the statement added.
In a March 15 statement, IAI said the president and chief executive of the firm has ordered all relevant individuals to "fully cooperate with authorities without hesitation with the Israel Police and to act according to directives, with the purpose of concluding the investigation and bringing to justice all those who broke the law."
The firm added that IAI "will continue to be a cornerstone for the state of Israel's security and its economy."
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.