American billionaire Ron Lauder, formerly a close associate of Binyamin Netanyahu, will in the coming days provide “detailed testimony” as part of an investigation being conducted against the prime minister, Channel Two reported Tuesday night. Lauder was questioned initially last Friday, and will be questioned at greater length in New York in the coming days, the report said.
Netanyahu is being investigated on charges of bribery, the details of which have not been released by police. That an inquiry is taking place has been confirmed by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Sources in Netanyahu’s office said last week that the new investigation was just the latest of one of many against the prime minister that will eventually evaporate due to a lack of evidence.
Lauder was approached by special investigators last Friday, as he attended the funeral of former President Shimon Peres. A livid Lauder refused to answer any questions, demanding to be allowed to leave and fuming over the surprise police had prepared for him. He agreed to either return to Israel for extensive questioning on the case, or, more likely, to answer the questions at his office in New York.
Lauder was formerly a strong backer and close confidante of Netanyahu, but the two have drifted apart in recent years over disagreements on policy, especially over the way Netanyahu has handled the Iran nuclear issue.