Benjamin Netanyahu faces 'criminal investigation' over fraud and bribery claims

Israeli Prime Minister alleged to have accepted €1 million from convicted French fraudster but denies any wrongdoing

Benjamin Kentish
Tuesday 27 December 2016 11:33 GMT
Benjamin Netanyahu faced questions over his role in an Israeli deal to buy submarines from a company partly owned by Iran
Benjamin Netanyahu faced questions over his role in an Israeli deal to buy submarines from a company partly owned by Iran

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, is reportedly facing a full criminal investigation into charges of bribery and fraud.

Police have been looking into the allegations for almost nine months and now believe they have cause to open a full investigation, according to reports.

Detectives have applied for permission from Avichai Mandelblit, the Israeli Attorney General, to begin a formal investigation into the alleged offences of bribe-taking and aggravated fraud, which are believed to relate to alleged donations.

Mr Netanyahu denies the allegations. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Haaretz: "It’s all nonsense.

“Since Netanyahu’s victory in the last elections and even before, hostile elements have used heroic efforts to attempt to bring about his downfall, with false accusations against him and his family.

“This [latest attempt] is absolutely false. There was nothing and there will be nothing.”

It was reported in June that Roni Alsheikh, the Chief of Israeli Police, had ordered the country’s special police unit, Lahav 433, which has been compared to the FBI, to investigate the Prime Minister - but demanded total secrecy and no leaks to the media.

Investigators are reportedly looking into allegations Mr Netanyahu accepted €1 million (£850,000) from Arnaud Mimran, a French businessman currently serving eight years in prison for committing a huge carbon-tax fraud. During his trial, Mimran claimed to have donated the money to Mr Netanyahu during the 2009 Israeli election campaign - something the politician has consistently denied.

Earlier this year a spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister said: “Mr. Netanyahu received no prohibited contribution from Mimran. Any other claim is a lie.”

The Prime Minister did, however, admit accepting $40,000 (£33,000) from Mimran in 2001.

Mr Netanyahu and his family have been the subject of several allegations of corruption during his time in office. It was reported in June that Mr Mandelblit, the Attorney General, was planning to close three cases of fraud against Mr Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, against the recommendation of police.

Investigators had reportedly recommended Ms Netanyahu be charged with three incidents of fraud after allegedly using public money for personal use. She is accused of spending state funds on patio furniture, gourmet dinners with private chefs, and a carer for her father.

Last month it was claimed Mr Netanyahu had been involved in an Israeli Defense Ministry deal to buy submarines from a German company that is owned partly by the Iranian government, which Israel sees as an enemy.

Opponents suggested the Prime Minister may have been influenced by links between his personal lawyer, David Shimron, and the shipbuilder, ThyssenKrupp. Both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Shimron denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Netanyahu said: “Increasing the security and strength of the state of Israel is the only consideration that guided me in acquiring the submarines.”

67-year-old Mr Netanyahu has been Israel’s Prime Minister since 2009, having also held the post between 1996 and 1999.

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