Moshe Terry's appointment as chairman of the Israel Securities Authority was cast in doubt yesterday when the State Prosecutor's Office announced plans to reexamine a case against him that was closed in the early 1990s.
In light of the announcement, the Ravivi Committee, which vets senior civil service appointments, decided to postpone a discussion on approving Terry's appointment.
The case dates from the time when Terry served as director of the Industry and Trade Ministry's Investment Center.
It stems from another criminal case in which businessman Joseph Hackmey defrauded the center over construction of a pharmaceuticals plant in Beit Shean.
Hackmey's business manager, Eli Zilber, told investigators at the time that Terry has asked him to contribute NIS 5,000 to his favorite soccer team, Maccabi Shearim.
Terry confirmed that he had advised Zilber to contribute to the team, but said he saw nothing wrong with having done so, as he was not connected with the team, was not its lobbyist or fundraiser, and had even stopped going to games.
Terry also noted that the pharmaceuticals plant received Investment Center grants even before he was appointed to his position there.
The police recommended indicting Terry. But in June 1992, then state prosecutor Dorit Beinisch (today a Supreme Court justice) decided instead to settle for a reprimand.
It is not known why the State Prosecutor's Office suddenly decided to reexamine the ten-year-old case. But its decision may relate to an anonymous letter received by the office. After Finance Minister Silvan Shalom announced his decision to appoint Terry to head the Securities Authority, both the Ravivi Committee and the State Prosecutor's Office were flooded with anonymous letters relating to decisions made by Terry as head of the Investment Center and to his connections with Likud-affiliated businesspeople.
In addition, the Ravivi Committee received a number of anonymous letters that included confidential and detailed information on sensitive Securities Authority investigations. These letters claimed that the companies and individuals involved were personal acquaintances of Terry, so he should be required to recuse himself from these cases if he is appointed. The investigations mentioned are at varying stages, from preliminary to advanced, but all are still secret.
A Justice Ministry spokesman told Ha'aretz in response that "following requests to the Attorney General, the factual aspects of the matter are being examined. This involves locating documents and does not at this time constitute an opinion on the appointment." The spokesman refused to say whether the "examination" concerns the Maccabi Shearim donation or another affair.
The delay in approving Terry's appointment has incurred the wrath of the Finance Ministry. In its first meeting two weeks ago, the Ravivi Committee asked to examine the extent of Terry's current Likud party affiliations.
After it became clear that Terry has not been involved in politics for fifteen years, and he promised to disengage from private enterprise upon his appointment, the treasury expected approval at the committee's next meeting.
A meeting originally scheduled for last week was postponed until yesterday, and only then was the reason for the postponement revealed to the treasury.
The delay has caused a problematic situation, as current chair Miri Katz is slated to retire mid-month. Particularly in light of the upcoming Sukkoth vacation, it is possible that the Israel Securities Authority may remain without a chairman.