It was a tape recording of Shaul Elovich appealing for “better coverage” for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that pushed former Communications Ministry Director General Shlomo Filber to turn state’s evidence, Maariv reported on Thursday. The recording has Elovich speaking to Ilan Yeshua, the CEO of the Walla news site.
The recording, according to the report, convinced Filber to make a deal with state prosecutors. Filber, whose nominal boss was Netanyahu, who was acting as communications minister, is accused of providing documents and other assistance to Elovich that would benefit his holding company by improving the situation of communications firm Bezeq. According to Hadashot News, Filber told police under questioning Wednesday that “I carried out the direct orders of Netanyahu. I had no say in any of these matters. He made clear to me what was needed, and who was needed to accomplish his goals.”
The report quoted associates of Filber, to whom he revealed the questions police asked. “I don’t want to mess up the inquiries, but I gave police very detailed answers. I sent outlines of documents to Bezeq, they went over the outlines, and I made the necessary corrections.” Filber said that investigators prompted him to sign the deal by pointing out that others involved in the affair, including Elovich, “are walking away with millions, but you are just a suspended civil servant, who at best earned half a salary.” They told Filber that they had him dead to rights, and when they played the recording for him, “he broke,” the report said. Police officials quoted by Maariv said that the recording “is one of the main things that turned Filber into a witness.”
The case police presented to prosecutors, according to the report, appears to be that Netanyahu, who was close to Filber and who, as the state witness said, gave him “direct orders,” could not have been unaware of the assistance Filber was providing Elovich, and likely instructed Filber to act in that manner. Elovich’s pushing for better coverage for Netanyahu was the quid pro quo that connects the prime minister to the affair. Police on Thursday will seek to extend the remand of Elovich, his wife and son, and Filber.
In a terse statement responding to the reports, Netanyahu’s office said that “the events as described never happened.” In a statement Tuesday night, Netanyahu dismissed the accusations as “shocking. What has been happening in the past two days is a breakdown of the system. They have dug up two new accusations against me and my family, part of the campaign that has been going on for years.”
Any benefits for Bezeq, he said, were approved by numerous government and professional committees, approved by legal authorities. “This is not the Wild West, no one is making personal decisions. All the decisions were properly and transparently made. Any claims that I acted on behalf of Bezeq are absolutely ridiculous.” The previous investigations against him are going nowhere, Netanyahu said, “so they have to come up with a new case, within hours. They question associates of mine, leak information, and all of the sudden we have a ‘case.’ The point, of course, is to publicly damage my reputation. What is happening is unbelievable.”