Tel Aviv district court judge, Dr. Oded Modrick, approved the plea bargain reached by both sides in Col. Shmuel Avivi’s trial.
Col. Avivi, who served as the IDF attaché in Switzerland during the years 2002-2005, was charged with taking advantage of his position as attaché by promoting his personal businesses – a severe conflict of interest and violation of trust. The affair is among one of the worst in which a senior IDF officer has been accused.
In accordance with the plea bargain, Avivi, represented by attorney Talia Gridish from the Shashi Gaz law firm, will perform three months of community service at the Kfar Yarok boarding school, as well as pay a fine of 70,000 NIS. This comes after he admitted guilt on a lighter charge of violation of trust, instead of the initial, more severe bribery charge of fostering ties with the Swiss arms dealer Heinrich Thomet.
Avivi’s initial goal was to promote the Israeli defense industries through Thomet; however, Avivi quickly began to put the Swiss arms dealer before the Israeli defense establishment.
Furthermore, while still serving as military attaché, Avivi aided Thomet and another Swiss partner in the establishment of the companies Talon Security Consulting and Trade Ltd. in Israel. The purpose of these companies was to trade arms outside of Israel.
According to the indictment, Avivi took an active part in managing the companies, held a cellular phone on their behalf, and even recruited Gad Peterson and retired police commander Alik Ron to promote the company’s affairs.
During the same period, he managed Thomet and the Israeli-established companies from the Swiss attaché offices and the house the IDF rented for him overseas. He also promoted contracts and took care of sales agreements, price proposals, business invoices, and foreign exchange transfer forms. Avivi even participated in negotiations on behalf of the companies prior to concluding his assignment as IDF attaché.
The prosecution claimed that in exchange for his activities in promoting and expanding Thomet's businesses, Col. Avivi received benefits for himself and his wife that included a Land Cruiser valued at 326,191 NIS, and a salary of 101,000 NIS paid to his wife—a registered Talon employee.
It was further claimed that merely two months after the end of his service as military attaché, and prior to his official discharge from IDF service, Avivi was appointed as Talon CEO, thus becoming a plenipotentiary in the company’s accounts.
“In the aforementioned actions, the accused – a public servant, performed an act of breach of trust which hurt the public, while performing his duty, and also accepted a bribe for actions pertaining to the fulfillment of his duty,” the prosecution wrote.