Israel PM Netanyahu's wife to be indicted for fraud

File: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and his wife Sara Netanyahu (L) visit the Monastiriotis Synagogue in Thessaloniki on June 15, 2017. Sara Netanyahu is facing fraud charges. Photo: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is to be indicted, pending a hearing, on fraud charges worth over $100,000.

Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to inform Sara Netanyahu of the charges against her within the next few weeks after she allegedly fraudently received items worth 400,000 shekels ($111,851), the Israeli daily Haaretz has reported.

The prime minister’s wife is, amongst other things, suspected of ordering chef’s meals at their official residence in Jerusalem, against regulations and thereafter trying to conceal the issue.

The Netanyahus, however, have accused their former chief caretaker at the residence, Meni Naftali, of deliberately inflating residence expense and stealing food from the residence.

Naftali had earlier taken the Netanyahus to court accusing them of abuse and won the case in March this year.

READ: Investigators question Israel's Netanyahu over alleged receipt of gifts

The court found “an atmosphere of harmful work conditions at the Netanyahu residence due to the behaviour of Mrs Netanyahu and her attitude toward the workers”.

The judge wrote in her ruling that Sara Netanyahu engaged in “irrational demands, insults, humiliation and outbursts of rage”.

The Jerusalem labour court awarded Naftali $42,000 in damages and court fees.

Furthermore, Israeli police who have been investigating the case against the Netanyahus, say the charges of corruption predate Naftali’s employment and continued long after he was fired.

The Israeli media has also regularly reported on the Netanyahus’ lavish lifestyle, including outsize expenses charged to state coffers, and has also portrayed Sara Netanyahu as a difficult person who wields great influence over her husband.

Mendelblit decided to take on the case himself despite the fact that Sara is not officially a public servant.

Yehuda Weinstein, Mendelblit’s predecessor, left his post several weeks ago after giving the go-ahead for the investigation to continue under caution.

Since then, there has been almost no contact between the Netanyahus and Weinstein, who had been their lawyer in the so-called Amedi affair, when they were investigated on suspicions of having attempted to get the state to cover expenses of contractor Avner Amedi, who had worked for them in the 1990s.

Furthermore, the decision to indict Sara in the residence affair is only one of a number of legal moves to be made in the coming months investigating other allegations against the prime minister and members of his inner circle.

In another case, Case 1001, Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of illicitly receiving gifts from wealthy patrons.

In Case 2000, the Israeli prime minister is suspected of attempting to concoct a deal with a publisher of a mass-circulation Israeli daily to give the Netanyahus positive media coverage in return for them cutting back on commercial activity of the competing free daily.

The state’s witness in these affairs is the prime minster’s chief of staff Ari Harrow.

In yet another case, Case 3000, suspicions of corruption in Israel’s purchase of submarines from Germany – will take the longest to deal with because of what the source called the “large extent of material”.

“Netanyahu is not considered a suspect in that case, but his attorney David Shimron, who also represented Michael Ganor, the alleged middleman in the deal, is under investigation,” reported Haaretz.

Some of the testimony has been placed under a gag order.

Police at the highest level in Israel are involved in the investigations, including Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich.

The latter has met a number of times with the national fraud squad team handing the investigation, and according to a senior police official, Alsheich is reading the important testimony in all the sensitive cases.

African News Agency

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