The Israeli Justice Ministry on Friday said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife has been formally informed that she may face trial over allegations she misused public funds in a case known as the "catering affair."
"The attorney general has informed the counsel of Mrs. Sara Netanyahu, wife of the prime minister, that he is considering putting her on trial, over her part in the 'catering affair,'" said the ministry's statement.
According to the allegations, Sara and an aide falsely declared there were no cooks available at the premier's official residence in Jerusalem, allowing them to procure public funds to order food from outside caterers.
"In this way, hundreds of meals from restaurants and chefs were fraudulently obtained from chefs and restaurants at a cost of 359,000 shekels (85,000 euros, $102,000)," the ministry said.
"For this reason the attorney general is considering putting Mrs. Netanyahu on trial for the offences of obtaining a benefit by fraud under aggravated circumstances, and (other) other offenses of fraud and breach of trust."
Ahead of the ministry's statement published on Friday, the office of the prime minister's Facebook page published a post denying Sara's involvement in the affair, saying the allegations were "absurd and will be proven to be unfounded."
The Netanyahus have instead blamed Meni Naftali, the premier's former housekeeper, for having ordered the food.
"During Naftali's term as housekeeper, the average monthly expenditure on take-away food was five times more than in the four years after he left," said lawyers representing Sara. Since leaving the premier's residence, Naftali has organized protests to decry government corruption, accusing the Netanyahus of widespread graft.
According to the justice ministry, Sara can argue her case in front of Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at a hearing before he decides to formally move forward with a trial.
The "catering affair" is only one of several corruption cases concerning the Israeli premier and his wife.
ls/jm (Reuters, AFP)