First Published: 2018-02-14

Corruption accusations facing Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing - here is a breakdown of the allegations he is facing.
Middle East Online

Gifts included pricey cigars, champagne and jewellery.

TEL AVIV - Israeli police have recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust in two corruption investigations.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. Here is a breakdown of the allegations he is facing:

- Cigars and champagne -

Police have dubbed the first investigation "Case 1000," and it centres on Netanyahu and his family being suspected of receiving gifts between 2007 and 2016 estimated to be worth around one million shekels (229,000 euros, $283,000).

According to police, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan was responsible for some 750,000 shekels in gifts, while Australian billionaire James Packer provided the other 250,000 shekels' worth.

The gifts included pricey cigars, champagne and jewellery.

Netanyahu is suspected to have in return sought to help Milchan receive tax benefits that some reports said could have been worth millions of dollars. The finance ministry however refused to agree to a law that would have allowed it.

He is also suspected of having tried to assist Milchan, who is Israeli, in obtaining a US visa extension, as well as of seeking to promote the producer's business interests in Israel.

Those efforts allegedly included Netanyahu seeking to allow Milchan to become a shareholder in Israel's Channel 2 television, the country's most popular private station.

He is also suspected of acting in favour of Israel's Channel 10, where Milchan was a shareholder.

Beyond that, police say Netanyahu is believed to have supported the creation of an industrial zone along the border between Jordan and Israel in favour of Indian billionaire Ratan Tata, Milchan's business partner. The project was eventually abandoned.

Packer, who was introduced to Netanyahu through Milchan, is said to have agreed to share the gift-giving with Milchan.

Police recommended Milchan also be charged with bribery.

- Mediagate -

The second investigation -- "Case 2000" -- involves suspicions that Netanyahu sought a secret deal for favourable coverage with the publisher of top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot, which the premier has regularly accused of being biased against him.

Police also recommend indicting the publisher, Arnon Moses, for bribery.

In exchange, Netanyahu is accused of exploring the possibility of having a law passed that would have limited the distribution of Moses's main competitor, the Israel Hayom free newspaper, and prevented its publication on weekends.

Police have collected testimony from Ari Harow, Netanyahu's former chief of staff who struck a deal to become a witness for the state.

- Submarines -

A third case is being investigated separately and has involved Netanyahu allies, but the prime minister has not been named as a suspect.

Two allies of Netanyahu have been questioned several times by police in recent months as part of an investigation into suspicions of corruption surrounding the sale of three submarines to Israel by German company ThyssenKrupp.

- Mealgate -

In yet another separate case, the prime minister's wife Sara Netanyahu is facing a possible graft trial over alleged misuse of public funds.

The allegations are that she and an aide falsely declared that there were no cooks available at the prime minister's official residence and they ordered from outside caterers at public expense.


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