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Committee Clears Friedman, Dinstein of Charges; Criticizes Neev Who Brought Charges Against Friedman

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A three-man State committee of inquiry today cleared Mordechai Friedman of all charges of mismanagement and corruption brought against him in his capacity as managing director of the government-owned Netivei Neft Oil Co. drilling for oil in the Sinai. Friedman was cleared in a majority report signed by Supreme Court Justice Albert Vitkon, the committee chairman, and one of its lay members, Abraham Kalir, an industrialist. The other lay member, Reserve Maj. Gen. Meir Zorea, dissented. The hearings lasted over four months.

Also cleared of charges was Deputy Finance Minister Zvi Dinstein. The panel, however, expressed disapproval over the way he had overseen Netivei Neft’s operations. The committee was sharply critical of Dr. David Neev, a government geologist who had brought the charges against Friedman. They ranged from bribery, theft and conflict of interest to holding orgies and condoning immoral behavior among oil field workers. The committee report found that Dr. Neev’s charges were grossly exaggerated and that his testimony before the panel included hearsay and gossip.

While Zorea contended that Friedman should be dismissed, the majority report found nothing wrong in the sale of equipment belonging to a private company owned by Friedman to a company having connections with the government. The majority report also refused to accept the contention that the establishment of Netivei Neft to exploit the Sinai oil fields captured from Egypt in 1967 was unnecessary because existing companies could have done the job. The committee report was submitted today to the Cabinet and immediately released to the public.

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