The State Attorney’s Office for Taxation and Economics recently informed Meir Turgeman, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Haba, David Buzaglo, David Kleiner, Laurent Levy and Yitzhak Turgeman, son of Meir Turgeman, that their prosecution is being considered, subject to a hearing.
Meir Turgeman is suspected of accepting bribes in the total amount of NIS 354,895, fraud and breach of trust, theft by an authorized person in the amount of NIS 69,949, use of fraud, deception and trickery in order to evade paying tax. In the hearing letters, the rest of the suspects are charged, each according to his share, giving and receiving bribes, breach of trust, disruption of investigative proceedings and falsification of evidence.
According to the hearing letters, during the relevant period Meir Turgeman served in a variety of positions in the municipality: councilor, chairman of the opposition in the Jerusalem City Council and as a member of the local planning and construction committee; from 2013 until the beginning of the open investigation in 2018, Turgeman served as a city councilor. And Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem; from 2014, Turgeman also served as chairman of the Local Licensing Authority for Planning and Construction and from November 2015 until the outbreak of the investigation, Turgeman also served as chairman of the local planning and construction committee. In addition, during the years 2004-2016, Meir Turgeman was authorized to sign and authorized the sole power of the bank account of the “Tefilat Yisrael” synagogue, where he used to pray.
Moshe Haba is an entrepreneur and businessman who worked in the real estate field and had significant interests in Jerusalem, including the owner of the Cyrus Hotel in the city, which is a strict conservation property. David Buzaglo is a businessman and entrepreneur in the real estate field and had business interests in the city of Jerusalem. Laurent Levy is a businessman and entrepreneur, who worked to promote his business and assets located near and around the “Music Square” complex in Jerusalem.
David Kleiner is the employee and agent of the next, and worked for him in front of officials in the Jerusalem municipality, in particular in front of Turgeman, who was Kleiner’s friend for decades. Kleiner managed the Cyrus Hotel project and worked with officials at the municipality to promote the next applications, as well as submit applications for permits for the project, among others, to the local planning and construction committee and the licensing authority.
Yitzhak Turgeman is the son of Meir Turgeman. Over the years, Isaac accompanied his father’s political life and was a right-hand man, a man of his secret and faith. Among other things, in 2008 and 2013, Yitzhak served in a senior position in Meir’s election campaigns for the Jerusalem City Council. As the son of the deputy mayor, Yitzhak enjoys an informal status in the Jerusalem municipality. In view of this status, various municipal officials regarded him as Meir Turgeman’s assistant and his long hand and even complied with requests and instructions given to them from time to time by Yitzhak.
According to the hearing letters, Moshe Haba gave Meir Turgeman and a bank guarantee for a loan of NIS 200,000 (which was not repaid by the time the investigation opened) in favor of the city council election campaign in 2013. The guarantee was given to Turgeman to help promote a hotel project. Cyrus in the municipality, which requires special permits due to being a conservation building of historical value. Indeed, Turgeman later helped promote the Cyrus Hotel project and in doing so, also acted in a conflict of interest in favor of David Kleiner, who was the employee of the next in the Cyrus Hotel project and, as mentioned, Turgeman’s close friend for many years. Therefore, Turgeman was to refrain from engaging in Kleiner’s affairs. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Turgeman did not report the conflict of interest in which he is facing Kleiner (until a later stage) and placed himself in sharp conflict of interest. Turgeman acted in an unusual and continuous manner in favor of Haba and Kleiner while deviating from the line in the performance of his duties.
According to the hearing letters, the following acted to disrupt the investigation and fabricate evidence after suspicions were raised in the national press and the municipality, regarding the nature of his relationship with Turgeman. Next decided to create a presentation whose purpose was to disguise his awareness of bribing Turgeman, among other things, by creating documents (which he sent to those involved in the affair while threatening to take proceedings against them, which did not happen until the open investigation opened.
The hearing letters also show that in exchange for promoting the affairs of David Buzaglo in the Jerusalem municipality, Buzaglo employed and paid Yitzhak Turgeman a fixed monthly salary and additional benefits when in practice Yitzhak hardly worked for Buzaglo. At the same time, Yitzhak acted to assist Buzaglo in the city hall corridors using his father’s name and knowledge.
In addition, it appears that Meir Turgeman acted in favor of promoting Laurent Levy’s affairs in exchange for funds that Levy transferred to Turgeman, which were intended as donations to the needy. Thus, in exchange for NIS 91,000, Turgeman assisted Levy in promoting his business in the Music Square in Jerusalem and tried to delay the criminal proceedings taken against him in relation to the illegal construction carried out by him in the square.
In addition, according to the hearing letters, Meir Turgeman is suspected of illegally using the money of the synagogue where he prayed, in which he was in charge of the synagogue’s coffers. According to the suspicion, Turgeman made personal use of his private home with funds donated for the purpose of renovations in the synagogue.
Meir Turgeman is also suspected of omitting income from the tax authorities on the money he received as bribes and the money he stole from the synagogue. The investigation was carried out by YAHA at Lahav 433 in the Israel Police and an Assessing Officer of Income Tax Investigations at the Tax Authority.