A senior police officer is suspected of receiving bribes from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, one of Israel’s most influential rabbis, it was cleared for publication on Wednesday night.
Some of the details of the investigation are still under a gag order, which Judge Anna Schneider of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court partially lifted following an appeal by several news outlets.
The officer in question is Menashe Arbiv, who heads the Lahav 433 of the Israel Police, which investigates national crimes and corruption and is one of the police's elite units.
The Attorney General and the State Attorney were reportedly given information implicating Arbiv or members of his family of receiving benefits from people close to Rabbi Pinto. The exact nature of these benefits was not cleared for publication, but the matter is being investigated by the Police Internal Investigations Department.
Arbiv had not yet been questioned in the matter as of Wednesday night, but he has announced that he will suspend himself while the issue is under investigation.
Rabbi Pinto was arrested in October of 2012 and questioned by police on suspicion of having offered a bribe to another senior police officer, Efraim Bracha who heads the police’s National Fraud Squad.
Police said at the time that Rabbi Pinto had offered to bribe Bracha in order to gain information about a police investigation into a charity he was running.
Channel 10 News reported on Wednesday that the investigation in the Bracha affair has now been put on hold and an indictment against Rabbi Pinto has been postponed, due to new information that has been received by police.
To make matter more complicated, the report said that the Arbiv investigation is linked to another, separate FBI investigation, in which Rabbi Pinto is a witness and which involves a U.S. congressman.
Rabbi Pinto is a highly esteemed spiritual figure who has advised many businessmen, both Israeli and Jewish-American, on both business and personal matters. Some of the more well-known visitors he has received include Yitzhak Tshuva, talk-show host Donny Deutsch, real estate mogul Ofer Yardeni, and even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Rabbi Pinto is also known for his efforts to encourage more business investments in Israel.