Benjamin Netanyahu investigated for money laundering by Israeli authorities

'As happened in all previous instances ... here as well there will be nothing, because there is nothing', Mr Netanyahu's spokesperson has said

Jess Staufenberg
Monday 11 July 2016 18:09 BST
Israeli media have reported a large amount of money being transferred to Mr Netanyahu but the Justice Ministry has said these claims are "inaccurate"
Israeli media have reported a large amount of money being transferred to Mr Netanyahu but the Justice Ministry has said these claims are "inaccurate" (Associated Press)

Benjamin Netanyahu is under investigation by Israel's attorney general after reports he was gifted a large amount of money from an unknown source.

The Israel Prime Minister has dismissed the allegations of corruption, which are the most recent in a series leveled against himself and his wife, as "baseless".

But a formal examination was announced by the attorney general late on Sunday, and could prove to be embarrassing for the leader known as "Bibi" if found to be true.

After the Justice Ministry confirmed it was looking into suspicions, Israeli media began to report that either Mr Netanyahu or one of his family members had received a large sum of money unrelated to polictical campaigns.

The claim has been dismissed by both the Ministry and the Prime Minister's spokesperson.

In a statement, the Justice Ministry said media reports were "incorrect to say the least", adding that the attorney general had not yet launched a full-fledged criminal investigation against Netanyahu.

Meanwhile Nir Hefetz, an adviser to the Netanyahu family, said: "As happened in all previous instances, when deeds attributed to Prime Minister Netanyahu turned out to be baseless, here as well there will be nothing, because there is nothing."

Those "previous instances" include Mr Netanyahu's wife, Sara, being accused of mistreatment by former employees at the couple's official home.

The police also recommended that she be indicted over extensive household spending and misuse of state funds - including for a caregiver for her ill father and for private meals, all claims the Netanyahus have denied.

Mr Netanyahu himself went on a six-day trip to New York last year using 600,000 (£462,000) of public money. This included $1,600 (£1,200) on a personal hairdresser.

And in another allegation, Arnaud Mimran, a French man convicted of a carbon tax fraud last week, said he gave Mr Netanyahu large sums for an election campaigns, an exchange which would violate Israel's campaign finance laws.

But the Israeli premier said the donation of $40,000 (£30,800) from Mimran was lawful because he received it while he held no office.

If the most recent probe is found to be true, it could lead to charges against Mr Netanyahu.

The scandals which have dogged both he and his wife Sara, aside from ongoing international criticism over the occupation of Palestinian territories, has painted the couple as enjoying a lavish lifestyle out of touch with the average Israeli.

The scandals do not seem to have threatened Mr Netanyahu, who was first elected as Prime Minister 20 years ago with some breaks since, but have been a source of embarrassment and fuel for those who criticise him.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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