Sara Netanyahu: Israeli PM's wife charged over alleged misuse of state funds

Indictment claims Benjamin Netanyahu's wife misused more than £76,000 of public money ordering hundreds of meals to official residence

Tom Barnes
Thursday 21 June 2018 12:46 BST
Ms Netanyahu has been indicted on fraud charges
Ms Netanyahu has been indicted on fraud charges (Reuters)

The wife of Israel’s prime minister has been charged with fraud involving the alleged misuse of state funds.

Sara Netanyahu has been indicted over claims she fraudulently ordered hundreds of meals to the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, spending more than $100,000 (£76,000) of public money in the process.

A statement released by Israel’s justice ministry said Ms Netanyahu had falsely claimed no cook was employed at the property.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself is embroiled in a series of corruption investigations, has called the allegations against his wife absurd and unfounded.

A former deputy director of the prime minister’s residence has also been charged in connection with the case, prosecutors said.

Ms Netanyahu has long faced accusations of abusive behaviour and living extravagantly in a manner out of touch with the general public.

Mr Netanyahu has been interviewed three times by police over his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal known as Case 4000.

It alleges Walla, a news website owned by a company called Bezeq Telecom, gave the government favourable coverage in return for regulatory benefits.

Earlier this year, police announced they had enough evidence to recommend indicting the prime minister on corruption charges involving alleged acceptance of “inappropriate” gifts and bribery claims.

Investigators claimed Mr Netanyahu had taken almost $300,000 (£227,000) worth of items such as champagne and cigars from a Hollywood producer, Arnon Milchan, and an Australian billionaire, James Packer.

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A second investigation alleges Mr Netanyahu asked Arnon Mozes, the publisher of daily Yediot Ahronot, for positive coverage in exchange for promoting legislation weakening a free newspaper which had cut into Yediot Ahronot‘s business.

The prime minister has denied the allegations and has accused the police of leading a “witch hunt” against him.

It seems unlikely the latest scandal involving his wife will cause Mr Netanyahu significant political damage.

Now serving his fourth term as Israel’s leader, his right-wing Likud party is riding high in opinion polls despite the long list of allegations levelled against him.

Additional reporting by agencies

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