The evidence in the 4000 case continues: Former Ministry of Communications Director General Avi Berger arrived to testify today (Tuesday) in the Bezeq case. In the main investigation conducted by attorney Yehudit Tirosh, Berger claimed that the reform in the wholesale market was supposed to have an economic impact on the company.
Berger is the fifth witness in the Netanyahu trial and the first witness in the matter of the regulatory benefits to Bezeq. He said that the charges against Netanyahu in the 4000 case were of great importance. He explained in his testimony that the reform of the wholesale market was supposed to harm the company’s financial situation. In his testimony, he said that an opinion was presented that showed that this had an effect of hundreds of millions of shekels. At the same time, Berger claimed that the company’s normative profit still existed and Bezeq had excess profitability that came at the expense of the public.
He went on to say that lawyer Tirosh asked Berger about the opposition of Bezeq officials to the reform. He believed that the general atmosphere was that Bezeq was not interested in reform and that dozens of letters had been sent to him and put pressure on him. Apart from him, he said that they also put pressure on the then Minister of Communications, Gilad Ardan, who served in that position until the end of 2014.
“They hinted I would not find a job”
Advocate Tirosh asked Berger what the firm’s policy was regarding the reform after Minister Arden left and until the end of his tenure as the firm’s director general. He argued that they continued with the same decisions of Arden in the same line and without changes. He added that in February 2015, the part of the reform that touched on the Internet was launched. “The telephony issue was not implemented and then I was fired,” Berger said. In the context of telephony, lawyer Boaz Ben-Zur commented that the reform in its framework has not been implemented to date.
Judge Bar-Am asked him what was more important to Bezeq. Berger replied that Shaul Elowitz, the controlling owner of the company, made sure to explain in a meeting between the two how much he was worried about the telephone, “so I guess it bothered them.” The former director general of the ministry expanded on the meeting with Elovich, which touched on the reform of the wholesale market: On a personal level, he told me that Shlomo Wax, who was a former CEO, submitted an opinion that Elowitz claimed was false – and that he later “had a hard time finding a job.”
“I realized it was some kind of implicit threat,” Berger continued in his testimony. “I picked up the phone to the ministry’s legal adviser, who recommended talking to the director general of the Ministry of Justice and a lawyer who represented us in the High Court. The three of them told me that this was an implicit threat and that there was nothing to do.”