June 09--Police have found $600,000 in Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's safety deposit box in a Jerusalem branch of Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT). The discovery comes just two days after Ben-Eliezer withdrew his candidacy for tomorrow's election for Israel's new president after the police suspected that he illegally received a NIS 1.4 million loan from businessman Avraham Nanikashvili to buy a penthouse apartment in an exclusive Jaffa project.
The source of the money in the safety deposit box is unclear and under interrogation Ben-Eliezer had reportedly claimed that the amount of cash he held was much smaller. The affair was first reported by Israel Radio's Adi Meiri who also claims that there are suspicions that Ben-Eliezer filed a false declaration regarding a confidential case that is being conducted in court.
Responding to all the allegations against him Ben-Eliezer said, "I was stunned that the information about me sat for one year with the police who didn't do anything. Why didn't they call me in during the year to clarify the facts. What caused them to call me just three days before the election for president, when I was the leading candidate."
Ben-Eliezer's attorney Nevot Tel-Zur sent a letter this morning to the head of the Israel Police National Fraud Squad following what he termed "an unprecedented wave of leaks." He wrote, "Ben-Eliezer made himself available to the investigating authorities despite the short notice and despite the puzzling timing that the investigation was opened. But his good will and belief in the fairness of the investigation has been caught up time and again in an escalating wave of demonization while many questions were leaked to the media before he was even asked them and before he had an opportunity to explain."
Tel-Zur added, "Matters reached new heights with a deliberate leak of a 'police raid' on Ben-Eliezer's secret safety deposit box in Jerusalem. This is something that should not be happening because the visit was planned and coordinated in advance with the investigator after he voluntarily reported the contents of the safety deposit box verbally and in writing last night."
The letter was also sent to the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and to Commissioner Meni Yitzhaki, the head of Israel Police's Investigations and Intelligence Unit.
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