Bezeq appoints acting chief as police bring CEO into corruption investigation

Bezeq appoints acting chief as police bring CEO into corruption investigation

Israeli operator Bezeq has appointed an acting CEO while the current CEO, Stella Handler, is under police investigation for involvement in alleged corruption.

The acting CEO is Yakov – or Kobi – Paz, who is head of Bezeq’s business division. From 2002 to 2006 he was CEO of Alcatel Israel and before that held a number of senior positions at Nortel. Paz will remain head of Bezeq’s business division, the company said.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Handler was arrested in connection with a wide-ranging investigation at Bezeq into allegations including fraud, bribery and securities offences. A court has ordered that she stay away from Bezeq for 30 days.

Police are also investigating the role of Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the company – and its former chairman. He has been arrested and remains in custody.

The enquiry has reached Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was questioned by police for five hours on Friday. According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu then posted a video on his Facebook page saying: “I feel confident more than ever – there will be nothing [to the police probes].”

Police also arrested Shlomo Filber, former director general of the Communications Ministry. According to Israeli media he has agreed to turn state’s witness.

According to today’s reports, a proposal from businessman Naty Saidoff to buy the parent company of Bezeq has suffered a “material deterioration”. The Globes newspaper is reporting that “the Saidoff group still does not intend to withdraw from the deal, but it is signalling that it expects the banks to act”. A board meeting is due on Thursday.

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