TEL AVIV (Jun. 10)
The Israeli police have been praised by FBI Director William Sessions for their cooperation in the investigation of a bribery scandal involving an Israeli air force general and an American defense contractor.
Details of Sessions’ letter to Police Deputy Commander Gabbi Waterman were released Tuesday amid reports that a U.S. congressman was asking for economic sanctions against Israel.
According to the reports, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House subcommittee on oversight and investigations, wrote to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney suggesting economic reprisals against Israel because of its alleged noncooperation in the bribery investigation.
But Sessions said Israel’s cooperation substantially helped the FBI to complete its investigation.
His letter of May 26 to Waterman, who heads the Serious Crimes Division of Israel’s national police, noted that the FBI was given access to Israeli air force bases, allowed to take testimony from air force officers and to photo graph various installations, including jet engine test sites, that figured in the investigation.
The scandal involved Brig. Gen. Rami Dotan, who was the chief procurement officer for the Israeli air force in the United States in the mid-1980s. He was convicted in Israel of accepting bribes from a high-ranking official of the General Electric Corp., a manufacturer of jet engines.
Dotan was stripped to the rank of private and is serving a 13-year prison sentence.
AID CONVICTED OF CONSPIRACY
The U.S. Justice Department, meanwhile, filed a complaint against G.E. charging its aircraft engines division with fraud. The trial is scheduled to begin in November, but the Pentagon has already barred the aircraft engines division from competing for U.S. government contracts.
Israel announced last week that it, too, was halting future business with the division.
The allegation of Israel’s non-cooperation may have arisen from its rejection of American requests to question Dotan in person. That was attributed to fear that the disgraced officer might disclose secrets, unrelated to the bribery affair, that could compromise Israel’s security.
Meanwhile, a former Dotan subordinate was found guilty of conspiracy to inflict bodily harm on the former civilian employee of the air force purchasing mission, Ofer Pa’il, who blew the whistle on the scandal.
Senior Staff Sgt. Maj. Ya’acov Frank was convicted of conspiracy, accepting a bribe, illegal possession of foreign currency and improper behavior. He drew a six-year jail sentence, a six-month suspended sentence, was fined $700 and reduced in rank to private.
Frank admitted that Dotan gave him $50,000 to hire an assassin to silence Pa’il. But instead of paying a hit man, Frank said he handed the money to one Zvi Berkowitz to give to the Lubavitcher rebbe in Brooklyn to pray for Pa’il to stop harming Israel’s security.