Yona Metzger, head Israel rabbi
Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger (C) carries the Torah scroll in one of Budapest's oldest synagogue after it was rededicated after 50 years, September 5, 2010. Metzger was called in by police for hours of questioning on suspicion of corruption and theft. Reuters/Bernadett Szabo

A top Orthodox Jewish rabbi has been placed under house arrest pending an investigation of accusations of corruption, bribe-taking, fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering, among other charges, all of which he vociferously denies, his lawyers told the media.

Yona Metzger, the top rabbi for the Ashkenazi Jewish community in Israel, has held his state-appointed position for 10 years, and his term is due to expire in July, the BBC reported. He was previously questioned on suspicion of similar fraud in 2005, but he was not prosecuted due to lack of evidence.

This time, however, investigators say they’ve been looking into his finances for months. Police reports say they suspect the rabbi pocketed thousands of shekels worth of donations given to him by non-profits. He was also accused by his driver of forging signatures on marriage certificates and overcharging for his services in performing marriage ceremonies.

Metzger was brought in for questioning on Thursday evening local time. Metzger’s personal aide and the heads of two non-profit foundations were also questioned and remanded for several days.

Metzger was accused of sexual molestation on Friday, Haaretz reported. A secular Jew came forward and alleged that at a meeting in the 1980s, the rabbi asked him to remove his shirt and groped him. Metzger denied the accusation.

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