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Defense lawyer arrested in Israel police bribery scandal 

Ronel Fisher, courtesy of erezrv via YouTubeA prominent Israeli lawyer was arrested Thursday on suspicion of being a middleman in a series of bribery schemes between police officials and his clients who were under police investigation.

Ronel Fisher allegedly paid bribes to close pending cases or pass on classified information.

Fisher has represented some top police officials, such as Ephraim Bracha who heads the police National Fraud Squad, so the scandal throws the Israel Police into the spotlight as well, The Times of Israel said.

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Sunday affirmed the state's argument that the allegations against Fisher were sufficient to extend his time in police custody as the investigation proceeds.

Fisher was apprehended in a sting operation after he was handed a suitcase loaded with NIS 150,000 (about $43,875) by Hassan. Hassan, who is under investigation for his alleged role in a port corruption ring, was collaborating with the police during the time of the sting operation. 

Hassan was arrested back in May, along with 14 other suspects, during a police raid. Authorities said that their investigation revealed a network of port workers who would use their influence to secure port contracts for private companies controlled by associates, who would then kick back a share of their profits to the workers.

The suspects were detained on various charges including abuse of office, bribery, breach of trust, extortion, fraud and money-laundering.

Hassan claimed during his investigation that had been approached by Fisher before the arrests.

Fisher told Hassan he could "help make all of your problems disappear," Ynet News reported.

He then informed Hassan that a police investigation into the ports was taking place, so Hassan could better prepare for being questioned by the police, and demanded bribes in exchange for further details. 

It is still unclear whether Fisher ever received bribes from any senior police official.

Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino on Friday dismissed claims of widespread corruption within the police force and said he was not concerned over the investigation, The Times of Israel said.

"I recommend that everyone, without exception, not to be moved by the bombastic headlines, but to wait for the findings," Danino said. "There will be large gaps in my estimation between the headlines and the actual findings."


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Bog and can be reached here.