Israel’s health care industry is one of the most corrupt and secretive industries in the world, and now the chief executive of a major health care firm is under investigation over a scheme that allegedly involved money laundering and other corruption.
Zion Health, which has been embroiled in scandals since the 1980s, is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office, a US government agency that investigates and prosecutes corruption in the healthcare sector.
The investigation follows the release of an undercover video that revealed Zion Health’s executives had been taking bribes and kickbacks in order to gain access to health care systems, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.
The video shows former CEO Dr Benny Gantz, the country’s most senior health care executive, admitting that he was paid $5,000 to attend a conference in New York City in 2015 where he was given a speech by Dr Salomon Mosharim, head of Israel’s National Health Insurance (NHI).
Mosharmon allegedly paid Gantz to give a speech and also gave him a phone number.
The footage was published by the Jewish Press, an Israeli news site, and the BBC, and it has been seen by a number of Israeli media outlets.
In the video, Gantz said he accepted the bribe because he wanted to “talk about the potential of NHI to transform health care in Israel and Israel’s future”.
He also said he did not know whether he would be charged, but admitted he did receive a bribe, Haaretz reported.
Gantz is one a number top Israeli leaders are facing charges related to health fraud, including former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
He is also under investigation by the US Department of Justice, which is investigating the company for allegedly accepting bribes from the healthcare industry.
Mosharom has been accused of bribing Netanyahu and Bennett, and has also been accused by the Israeli government of using his position to receive large payments from the health sector.
It is unclear whether or not Mosharam’s son, Benny Gavron, has also received a bribe from the Israeli healthcare industry in the past.
According to the BBC report, the SFO investigation will focus on whether or in what way Moshara was aware of the alleged bribe payments or whether he did anything about it.
The investigation into Zion Health was first reported by Haaretz on Wednesday.
In an interview with Haaretz, Benny and Naftals Gavrons denied that they received any bribes.
“This is the only thing that we are aware of,” Benny Gaver said.
“The only thing we know is that the payments were given to Benny and he did nothing about it.”
“We have no reason to think he knew about it, but he did it and he paid for it.”
“The whole thing is completely ridiculous,” he added.
The allegations against Mosham and other Zion Health executives come amid a national health care crisis that has seen more than 40,000 patients and health care workers lose their lives since January.
The healthcare sector has been under attack by a wave of cases of healthcare fraud in recent weeks, as well as by a growing number of attacks by Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community, who say that their community is in charge of the health system.
On Tuesday, Israel’s Minister of Health, Shai Gilad, accused the government of failing to prevent or tackle a massive health care fraud scandal.
He called on the public to support the victims of health care corruption.
“Israel is facing a health care epidemic,” he said.
More to come…