A group of travel companies conspired to fix prices of educational Holocaust trips to Poland for Israeli students, police investigators said on Wednesday, after concluding an 18-month investigation.
Police said they found an evidentiary basis for prosecuting the companies and managers of Hillel Tours, Gesher Tours, Academy Travel and Diesenhaus on suspicion of acting as a cartel in divvying up tenders from the Education Ministry and other institutions to bring students to Poland. The students’ parents then had to pay the inflated rates – reportedly as much as NIS 6,000 – for the weeklong trip, police said.
“Evidence was gathered that established the suspicion that for years, the agents have acted as a cartel in order to maintain a high price, while presenting a false representation of competition between them,” Lahav 433, the National Crime Unit, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Pinchas Ginsburg, the director of Hillel Tours and a major stakeholder in El Al Israel Airlines, is among the suspects.
The findings of the investigation, conducted in cooperation with the Antitrust Authority, were transferred to its legal department and to the economic department of the State Attorney’s Office, where a decision will be reached on prosecuting the case.
Police also said that during the investigation they found evidence that one of the company’s managers provided benefits to public employees to further the company’s interests.
Some 30,000 Israeli students take part in the annual Poland trips.