(GPA) Jerusalem – The Israeli police claimed to have found new information in an ongoing secret inquiry into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s business dealings and at now asking the attorney general’s office to authorize a full investigation.
The secret probe into Netanyahu began about nine months ago and revolved around accusations that the PM had accepted illegal donations. The donations are alleged to have come from a French business man, Arnaud Mimran who was convicted of a massive carbon-credit fraud charge. Several of Mimran’s alleged co-conspirators were Jews living in France who fled to Israel before they could be formally charged.
Mimran originally claimed to have funneled $200,000 to Netanyahu for reelection in 2009 violating Israeli campaign laws. Netanyahu claimed the only money he had received from Mimran was a mere $40,000 in 2001 but the newest revelations by the Israeli police forces say it could have been as much as one million euros (about $1.1 million).
The investigation also includes other instances of unethical behavior during Netanyahu’s time as finance minister. This includes trips on private jets belonging to wealthy business contacts used by Netanyahu and his family as well as reports of Netanyahu’s wife Sara using public funds for personal use such as retirement care for her father and gourmet dinners with personal chefs.
Israeli police had recommended that Sara Netanyahu be charged with at least three counts of fraud. The Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, had previously proposed closing the case against Sara – possibly due to pressure from above – despite recommendations against this from police investigators. Despite his attempts to close the cases against Sara it now seems Mandelblit is being presented with enough evidence that he essentially has to open a public investigation into the Prime Minister’s finances.
Benjamin Netanyahu is also accused of more recently using state funds for personal expenses including a trip to New York last year with his wife and children. This trip cost the state $600,000 total; including extravagances such as the services of a $1,600 personal hairdresser.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister told Hareetz that these accusations were “all nonsense,” and that “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.”
Netanyahu is also under fire from political opponents for an unrelated scandal involving the purchase of three submarines from Germany which many defense ministers deemed unnecessary. Opponents of Netanyahu accuse the PM of making the deal anyway in order to benefit friends in the defense industry although he says the purchase was only made to “ensure Israel’s security.” This scandal also included condemnation from Netanyahu’s own right wing supporters due to Iranian investors owning a large share of the German submarine manufacturer and making millions from Israel’s purchase.
Netanyahu continues to vehemently deny this scandal as well as all the other charges but he doesn’t act like a completely innocent man. Opponents of Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, say Likud is attempting to subvert the law by proposing such measure as “immunity for minor offenses” committed by the Prime Minister. The law originally stated that a PM would be immune from minor offenses but later was rewritten to make him completely immune from prosecution from all charges as long as he remained in office.
From the outside looking in, it’s not hard to believe Netanyahu wouldn’t have a high regard for Israeli law as his recent actions have shown he doesn’t even hold his country to the standards of international law. Many in the pro-Israel crowd will just say these are baseless accusations but for those not inclined to believe a word Netanyahu says, it’s easy to see why there would be suspicion.