Another Prison Term in the Tree-Pruning Cartel
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced a member of the tree-pruning cartel to 11 months' imprisonment
The Jerusalem District Court (Judge A. Rubin) sentenced today (Wed.) the defendant Zohar Katz to 11 months' imprisonment, a fine of NIS 100,000 and forfeiture of an additional sum of NIS 174,000.
The criminal proceeding was handled jointly by the Israel Competition Authority and the Economic Crimes Department of the State's Attorney's Office, after a joint investigation of the Competition Authority and the National Fraud Investigations Unit (Lahav 433) of the Israel Police.
In view of the evidence gathered in the tree-pruning cartel investigation, three indictments were filed against more than 40 defendants, charging offenses of restrictive arrangement in aggravating circumstances, fraud in aggravating circumstances and as to some of the defendants also money laundering. The charges related to the rigging of bids for 18 contracts of the Israel Electric Company and various municipalities, with an aggregate value of tens of millions of NIS. Most of the bid-rigging took place during 2009-2010.
Katz is the last remaining defendant in the tree-pruning cartel. He was convicted of being party to a restrictive arrangement in aggravating circumstances, fraud in aggravating circumstances and money laundering, after reaching a plea agreement with the prosecution during his defense case. The plea agreement did not include agreement as to Katz's sentence, and the court determined his sentence after hearing the parties' arguments.
Some of the other defendants in the tree-pruning cartel were also sentenced to prison terms of varying lengths; their cases are now before the Supreme Court on appeal.
The State of Israel was represented by Advocates Asher Goshen, Eyal Perzon and Yitzhak Spiegler of the Competition Authority, and Advocates Gilad Sokolover and Omri Kofler and of the Economic Crimes Department of the State's Attorney's Office.