Israeli PM Netanyahu's wife charged with fraud, Justice Ministry says

Leroy Wright
June 21, 2018

Ezra Saidoff, deputy director of operations and assets at the Prime Minister's Office, was also charged with fraud and breach of trust for his part in ordering meals and recruiting waitstaff.

The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been charged with falsifying household expenses in order to have catered meals supplied to their official residence.

Negotiations for her to return a portion of the diverted money and confess to the charges in exchange for avoiding prosecution broke down when the prime minister's wife reportedly refused to pay the sums requested by prosecutors, telling her lawyers she'd rather go to jail than reimburse the state.

Suspicions included the misuse of around $100,000 in official funds for catering services at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, the ministry said in a statement.

Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu visit the British Museum in 2015.

They hoped to obtain state funding for both the cook and the prepared food.

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Israel's attorney-general is still weighing whether to indict him.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu walk out after their meeting with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, second left, at Bercy Economy Ministry, in Paris, Wednesday, June 6, 2018.

During negotiations with Netanyahu last month, prosecutors reportedly offered to close the case if she paid back the cost of the meals and admitted to the charges, but she turned down the offer.

The charges are the culmination of years of investigation into Sara Netanyahu's official expenses. Although Hefetz is primarily a state's witness against the prime minister in Case 4000, known as the Bezeq-Walla! "He himself has three criminal investigations hanging over his head and that will make it harder for Netanyahu to govern".

In the other case, investigators suspect the premier of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot, a top Israeli newspaper, for more favourable coverage.

According to the indictment, filed in the Jerusalem magistrate's court, Sara Netanyahu also spent $10,000 on private chefs between 2010-2013.

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