Israel Police: ‘Sufficient Evidence’ to Indict PM’s Wife Over Electrician, Bottles

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu(Flash90)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Flash90)

Israel Police announced Sunday afternoon the completion of their investigation into claims of fraud leveled against Sarah Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, concerning irregularities in the running of the prime minister’s households in Yerushalayim and Caesarea.

Police said that there appeared to be sufficient evidence to prosecute Mrs. Netanyahu, along with her house manager Ezra Saidoff and electrician Avi Fahima.

All three were questioned under caution in December 2015 by Israel Police’s Lahav 433 fraud investigation unit. Mrs. Netanyahu was asked to detail her involvement in the running of the prime minister’s official residence in Yerushalayim and explain whether state funds were used to pay service providers at their private residence in Caesarea.

The investigation opened in February 2015 with the approval of then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and the State Attorney and focused on a number of criminal offenses including fraud and breach of trust. The investigation also entailed evaluating the merits of Mrs. Netanyahu’s counterclaims.

At the time he requested the investigation, Weinstein cited a report by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira that spending on the upkeep of the residences was “excessive.” Among the irregularities cited in the report was the hiring of Fahima, a member of the Likud Central Committee, who allegedly charged excessively high prices for his work. Mrs. Netanyahu is accused of ordering his services without getting approval from any government body for the spending, and the report claims that much of the work he supposedly did was unnecessary. Saidoff, meanwhile, is accused of coordinating the work, at her request. Mrs. Netanyahu herself was accused in the report of failing to hand over to the state about NIS 4,000 in refunds from bottles that were returned to a recycling center. Dubbed “bottlegate” by the media, that incident may lead to another indictment for her.

In the past the Netanyahus have dismissed both the report and the investigation as “another attempt to prosecute us without cause.”