Netanyahu to be investigated for bribery, fraud

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has reportedly approved a full criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into allegations of bribery and fraud.

Netanyahu will be investigated by police for two separate cases and will be called in for police questioning in the coming days, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

Asked by The Times of Israel, the Justice Ministry — under whose auspices the attorney general operates — declined to comment Wednesday evening on the report. There was no immediate response from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Earlier this month, Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit and Eldad Yaniv, a lawyer and Labor party activist, petitioned the High Court of Justice to demand the Attorney General answer why had not yet opened an investigation despite what they called “overwhelming evidence.”

Writing on Facebook hours before the Channel 10 report, Yaniv said that Mandelblit “realized there was no other choice but to open an investigation’ after meetings with senior investigators.

“The police have weighty proof linking Bibi to suspicions of bribery and fraud,” Yaniv wrote.

Police recently received new documents as part of a secret inquiry into the prime minister that began almost nine months ago, Channel 2 reported Tuesday. Based on those files, police turned to Mandelblit requesting that he agree to a full criminal investigation. The report stated that among the suspected offenses are bribe-taking and aggravated fraud.

In June, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich gave his go-ahead to the hush-hush probe by the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, but demanded full cooperation on secrecy and that no details be leaked to the media.

Mandelblit also reportedly instructed employees in the state prosecutor’s office to look into allegations that Netanyahu accepted 1 million euros (about $1.1 million) from accused French fraudster Arnaud Mimran in 2009.

In May, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira issued a critical report on Netanyahu’s foreign trips, some of which were taken with his wife and children, from 2003 to 2005, when he was finance minister.

Earlier this month, in an apparently unrelated case, there were calls for the prime minister to be investigated for his role in a Defense Ministry deal to purchase submarines from a German company partly owned by the Iranian government.

The affair dominated public debate in the country last month, as accusations surfaced that the prime minister may have been swayed in the decision by business ties his personal counsel David Shimron had with the submarines’ builder, ThyssenKrupp. The purchase was opposed by parts of the defense establishment, including former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.

On Sunday, police descended on the Defense Ministry to gather information relating to a ship-building contract with Germany, as part of a probe into how negotiations for multi-billion shekel naval deals were handled.


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