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Modai Under Investigation for Alleged Oil Deals Kick-backs when He Was Energy Minister

The police confirmed today that former Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai is under investigation for alleged wrong-doing when he served in Premier Menachem Begin’s first government from 1977-1981. Police sources stressed, however, that no evidence has been found so far to substantiate the accusations.

Modai, a Minister-Without-Portfolio in the present government, allegedly took kick-backs from oil deals transacted on behalf of the country when he headed the Energy Ministry. He vigorously denied the charges after the story become the lead item on television news yesterday. He complained to Minister of Interior and Police Yosef Burg and to Education Minister Zevulun Hammer that the television report was irresponsible.

Political ramifications were introduced when the Knesset House Committee voted unanimously yesterday to “severely censure” Labor MK Yehuda Hashai for raising the matter of Modai’s alleged misconduct in the Knesset in the form of a question to the Premier. Hashai claimed, in a television interview, that he had written privately to Premier Menachem Begin and to the State Comptroller on the matter. This was denied today by both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Comptroller.

A police spokesman, Nitzav Karti, confirmed today that the television story failed to stress the police statement that nothing incriminating has been found so far against Modai. Yitzhak Gilboa, a top government oil official, told reporters today that he personally authorized every oil transaction during Modai’s tenure as Energy Minister and there were no kick-backs.

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