Israeli PM's wife Sara Netanyahu charged with fraud

Erika Holt
June 24, 2018

Lawyers defending Sara Netanyahu, who was indicted Thursday for misusing $100,000 in state funds, claimed that the regulations governing expenditure in the prime minister's residence had no legal standing because they had not been approved by the government.

The allegations were announced past year, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit postponed his decision on whether to indict Sara Netanyahu in order to try to reach a plea bargain, under which she will admit guilty and agree to return some of the money.

The charges against Netanyahu include fraud and breaches of trust.

Ezra Saidoff, deputy director of the Prime Minister's Office, in Jerusalem on May 10, 2015.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also faces several police investigations into alleged corruption. If convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Benjamin Netanhayu had said those accusations would prove to be unfounded; he called the probe into his own activities a "media witch-hunt."

Investigators in the case gathered evidence that purportedly shows that the prime minister's wife ordered that the employment of the cook be concealed and also showed that she was aware that ordering meals from the outside for the residence when it employed a cook was a violation of the rules.

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Israel's Ynet News says the attorney general's office is seeking a three-judge panel to hold Sara Netanyahu's trial because of "the defendant's public position". "There was no fraud or breach of trust here or deceptively receiving things or any other crime".

Over the past few months, there have been attempts to reach a plea bargain, with the attorney general saying he would be open to Sara Netanyahu's repayment of the funds in question.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (third L), His wife Sara Netanyahu (second L) Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner (C), US President's daughter Ivanka Trump at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem in May in Jerusalem.

The indictment threatens to reinforce the unflattering reputation the Netanyahus have gained for enjoying an expensive lifestyle out of touch with most Israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to dismiss the investigation previous year.

Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent of the Jerusalem Post, said the indictment was a "devastating blow" to the prime minister.

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