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Netanyahu in fraud and bribery investigation

August 4, 2017

Concrete details of an ongoing investigation into Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu have come to light through a court order. Police are in talks with his ex-chief of staff concerning testifying against his former boss.

Symbolbild - Isreal Premierminister Benjamin Netanjahu
Image: Getty Images

Details into Israeli authorities' investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally emerged on Thursday, following months of questions and media speculation.

A court order issued by the police to an Israeli court disclosed that the prime minister was being investigated "on suspicion of the commission of the felonies of bribery, fraud and breach of trust."

Read more: Israel arrests Netanyahu allies over German submarine deal

Police had principally been seeking a court injunction aimed at barring publication of "any details from the negotiations under way with (former Netanyahu aide) Ari Harrow and counsel." However, the court also disclosed Netanyahu's suspected wrongdoing. 

Netanyahu questioned over corruption allegations

Meanwhile, Harrow, Netanyahu's former chief-of-staff, has agreed to testify in two cases against his former boss. Israeli media say Harrow reached a deal with the prosecutors on Friday.

Multiple allegations facing "Bibi"

Netanyahu's suspected wrongdoing revolves around two separate cases. The first case, known as File 1,000, relates to illegal gifts received by Netanyahu and his family from business associates, including Australian billionaire James Packer and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan. File 2,000, meanwhile, concerns alleged attempts by the prime minister to strike a deal with the publisher of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper group, offering legislation that would weaken the publisher's competitors in exchange for favorable coverage. 

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing. A spokesman for the Israeli premier responded to the court order on Thursday, saying he was the victim "a witch-hunt, now at its peak, aimed at changing the government."

Read more: Netanyahu slams UN, denies corruption on Australia visit

The spokesman continued: "This is destined to fail, for a simple reason: Nothing will happen because nothing happened."

However, Odelia Carmon, another former aide of Netanyahu's who worked alongside Harrow, said that if the former aide were to testify, the revelations would be a "bombshell."

"He dealt with raising donations, he dealt with the finances, he dealt with state secrets," Carmon told a local radio station on Wednesday. "So this is not someone that Netanyahu can disavow, and I further believe he has everything documented."

According to Israeli media, Harrow owns recordings of Netanyahu's conversations with Yedioth publisher Arnon Mozes.

Justice shines a light on Israeli politics

Netanyahu isn't the first Israeli leader to have faced a criminal probe. In 2014, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted of breach of trust and bribery, while Ariel Sharon was questioned while in office over allegations of bribery and illegal campaign financing activities.

Netanyahu has also found himself tied up in a separate investigation over a $2 billion deal to buy German submarines, which has led to the arrests of seven public officials and private business people. Although the prime minister isn't implicated in the case, his personal lawyer and second cousin is representing the local agent of German manufacturer, ThyssenKrupp, and is believed to have helped push the deal.

Israel's Netanyahu caught on microphone slamming EU

dm/gsw (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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