The Israeli Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Haim Katz, announced his resignation on Friday after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced his intention to charge the Minister for fraud and corruption.
The 71-year-old is accused of tabling legislation designed to benefit the interests of Israeli businessman Mordechai Ben Ari, who has acted as an investment advisor for Katz, according to Haaretz.
“According to the indictment, Haim Katz and Mordechai Ben Ari have formed a relationship and have become close friends, while sharing common economic interests,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
“In all my actions, fulfilling my duties as a minister and member of the Knesset, I acted impartially and in the public interest,” Katz wrote in the resignation letter handed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.
Following his resignation, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said she expected to be appointed to Katz’s former position, adding that she expected Katz to be acquitted of the charges, writes the Times of Israel.
Katz was also criminal suspect in a separate corruption investigation related to his time as head of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) workers union, but the Attorney General has since decided to close that case against the minister.
In February, police recommended that Katz be charged with bribery, fraud, extortion and abuse of trust on suspicion that he used his position as head of the IAI union to promote his own interests, including promising lucrative employment to board members who cooperated with him.
Haim Katz, a member of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing party Likud, is not the only member of the government to be in the crosshairs of justice. The Prime Minister himself faces charges of corruption, fraud and breach of trust that will be heard by the Attorney General in October. Netanyahu has denied the charges against him, denouncing them as a “witch hunt”.