Israeli mayor arrested for fraud

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The mayor of the Israeli city of Bat Yam was arrested on suspicion of fraud amounting to millions of dollars.

Mayor Shlomo Lahiani of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv, was arrested Monday on charges of fraud, breach of trust, embezzlement and money laundering following a two-year undercover investigation. He will remain in jail at least through the end of the week.

The mayor’s brother and several close associates were also arrested during Monday’s raid, which involved about 100 policemen in several locations.

Most of the charges, which have not yet been made public, stem from irregularities in Lahiani’s dealings with the local planning and building council, Haaretz reported.

Lahiani reportedly was able to cover tens of millions of shekels in debt from his personal contracting business during his six years as mayor, which is not a high-paying position. There are also unexplained bank deposits totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels in his and his relatives’ back accounts, according to Haaretz. He is also reported to have promoted his friends in city positions and of paying off a traffic ticket with city funds.

Lahiani was elected mayor of Bat Yam in 2003 and reelected in 2008 with 85 percent of the vote.

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