Friedman’s Home Raided; Suspected of Involvement in Illegal Transactions

Income tax officials escorted by police today raided the home of Mordechai Friedman, former managing director of the Netivei Neft oil company, just a week after a government panel cleared Friedman of wrongdoing in his administration of the State-owned firm.

The raid was carried out to gather evidence in connection with suspicion that Friedman was involved in illegal transactions including tax evasion and violation of the Foreign Currency Act. The suspicion stems from information elicited during the four-month long inquiry into the affairs of Netivei Neft by a three-man panel headed by Supreme Court Justice Albert Vitkon. Although the panel decided by a 2-1 majority that Friedman’s activities did not warrant his dismissal, the oil executive submitted his resignation last Friday to Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir and it was promptly accepted.

He resigned amid a public clamor for his ouster and widespread criticism of the panel’s majority report in which Judge Vitkon had concurred. Attorney General Meir Shamgar announced Sunday that he had asked the police to probe Friedman’s affairs in relation to Netivei Neft.

The raid on Friedman’s home followed one yesterday on the home of Dr. Foca Hirsch, the agent for a large electronics and aircraft firm, who is also suspected of tax and foreign currency violations. The Hirsch case apparently is not connected with the Friedman case. Hirsch has been described as a “playboy” and “bon-vivant” of the international jet set. A tax official said yesterday. “We want to show that everyone is equal before the law. We make no distinction if a suspect is an ordinary citizen or a member of high society.”

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