Breakthrough in Lahav 433 Corruption Case

Son of former chief of police's Lahav 433 submits to questioning over bribery from Rabbi Pinto after months of stalled investigation.

Tova Dvorin ,

Menashe Arbiv
Menashe Arbiv
Israel Police

New developments have surfaced in the long-standing corruption scandal between Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto and the former head of the special police corruption investigation unit Lahav 433 Menashe Arbiv on Thursday, after a lengthy hiatus in the case. 

Arbiv's son Tzahi will be questioned over his father's role in the affair, according to Walla! News, despite living now in Australia - a move which investigators hope will close the years-long case. 

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) received a letter from the Israeli Department for the Investigations of the Police (DIP) this week ordering the questioning, a move the AFP is allowed to do under Australian law on Israel's behalf. 

The move comes after months of clashes between the DIP and the younger Arbiv, who reportedly refused to be questioned as Australian law allows, but did not refuse to testify. 

Arbiv is now due to be investigated in August, and is expected to testify on the favors he, along with his father, received from Pinto illegally - presumably in exchange for information about a separate corruption case that was filed against Pinto. 

The rabbi allegedly gave $2,000 to Tzahi every month, as well as a 700,000 shekel ($190,000) discount for the senior police officer to buy a home in an exclusive section of northern Tel Aviv. The associates added that the rabbi and his aides also helped Arbiv when he served as a representative of the Israeli Police in the US.

If tried and convicted of accepting a bribe, the elder Arbiv could face up to 10 years in prison. 

Pinto scandal - on and on

Pinto allegedly attempted to bribe senior police officer Ephraim Bracha with $200,000 for information about a pending police investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya charity organization, which Pinto was rumored to be closely involved with. Bracha immediately reported the incident to his superiors, prompting a separate investigation against Rabbi Pinto himself. 

The allegations claim that several members of the charity - including Pinto - stole much of the food donated to the kitchen and sold it for "tens of millions of dollars," according to a 2012 Ha'aretz article. 

That investigation revealed that Pinto allegedly tried to bribe several other officers - including Arbiv - for information about the case against Hazon Yeshaya. 

The charity, which was supposed to have provided millions of dollars to Holocaust survivors and ran a popular soup kitchen and volunteer network in Jerusalem, closed in 2012 under allegations of fraud.

Pinto was sentenced to one year in prison in May.