Daily Israel Report

Alleged Conflict of Interest in Government Corruption Watchdog

Senior staffer alleges serious conflict of interest within body tasked with rooting out corruption.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 12/8/2013, 11:19 AM

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The government body tasked with exposing corruption, mismanagement, and conflicts of interest in the public sector is facing accusations of a serious conflict of interest within its own ranks.

Shmuel Yonas, the Deputy Director-General for Management of the State Comptroller’s Office, has alleged that State Comptroller Yosef Shapira and his office manager have conflicting interests relating to the tender for building the new State Comptroller’s residence, IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal) reports.

In correspondence between the parties involved, Yonas argued that one of the directors of the company that won the tender is a personal friend of Shapira’s. In addition, he said, the company building the home and the company tasked with oversight of the project on the government’s behalf share ownership of a third company – posing a clear conflict of interests.

He reportedly threatened to turn to an outside legal advisor if the matter was not investigated.

Shapira rejected his claims, saying his only acquaintance with the company director in question was having been represented by them 20 years earlier.

According to the report, in internal correspondence Shapira alleged that Yonas was known to be a troublesome worker who interfered with work in the Comptroller’s Office. Other workers have accused him of dishonesty, Shapira alleged.

In light of the conflict the office manager decided to take Yonas off the case. However, he refused to end his involvement, and told Shapira and the office manager that they do not have the authority to fire him.

A spokesperson for the Comptroller’s Office declined to respond to the IDF Radio report.

Meir Gilboa, a former senior adviser in the Comptroller’s Office, told IDF Radio, “The time has come for there to be real oversight of the Comptroller’s Office. When everything stays in the family, you sometimes get disabled children.”

However, Gilboa lent weight to Shapira’s side of the story, saying, “Shmuel Yonas has been known for years as the ‘bad boy’ of the Comptroller’s Office, and not in a good way. He does everything to put a stick in the wheels.”