Israeli prime minister’s wife accused of misusing funds for residence

Israeli-prime-ministers-wife-accused-of-misusing-funds-for-residence.  JERUSALEM,  Police in Jerusalem said Sunday they have evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara Netanyahu, in regard to the use of state funds to manage the prime minister’s residence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands with his wife Sara, who has been accused of misusing state funds meant for the prime minister’s residence for personal family expenses. District prosecutors will decide whether to indict her. Pool Photo by Sebastian Scheiner/UPI | License Photo

Prosecutors are expected to review the evidence and decide whether to indict her.

The Netenyahu family denies any wrongdoing.

Evidence was also reportedly found against two other suspects – Ezra Seidoff, a top deputy in the prime minister’s office, and electrician Avi Fahima, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Israel Police turned over their investigative findings to district prosecutors who will make the call on whether to proceed with an indictment.

Police are recommending charges including aggravated fraudulent receipt on three separate counts. In one case, there’s a recommendation to indict Netanyahu for ordering food and private chefs for family events at the expense of the prime minister’s residence. The allegation is using state funds for private family entertainment.

In another case,police recommend Netanyahu be indicted in relation to the employment of a caregiver for her father, Haaretz reported. The investigation reportedly revealed that Netanyahu paid the expenses for a live-in caregiver for her father using money meant to run the prime minister’s residence.

In a third case evidence was produced to indict three people: Sara Netanyahu, Ezra Saidoff, the deputy director general of the prime minister’s office and Avi Fahima, a former Likud Central Committee member who has been close to the prime minister for years and often did work at the Caesarea residence in the years when Netanyahu was out of office.

“The national unit of the Israel Police has concluded its investigation of the prime minister’s residences,” it announced in a statement. “The case began in February 2015 with the approval of the attorney general and the state prosecutor and focused on a number of issues in connection to which suspicion of the commission of criminal offenses arose, including fraudulent receipt, fraud and breach of trust, including addressing mutual accusations. At the conclusion all of the purported evidence, findings and insights gathered in the police investigation were provided to the Jerusalem district prosecutor–which was involved in the investigation – for its review and decision.”

The prime minister’s wife was questioned under caution – as someone who might be charged with a crime – in December 2015 by a fraud unit in Israel Police’s Lahav 433 investigation unit.

The probe was based on a state comptroller’s report issued in February 2015, along with evidence supplied by Meni Naftali, a former chief caretaker at the official residence, focused on three issues.

The Netanyahu family responded to the news saying, “Contrary to reports, Mrs. Netanyahu did not commit any offense. The various claims that come up in the media will prove baseless, as will all other claims that were raised against the Netanyahu family over the years.”

The state comptroller’s office issued a report in February 2015 on expenses paid by the taxpayer at the prime minister’s homes, including not only his official residence in Jerusalem but also including his personal residence in Caesarea.

Netanyahu reportedly asked Fahima to do electrical work at the house in Caesarea on weekends, when rates were higher. Over a three-month period, Fahima was called to come almost every weekend to do work, in addition to Yom Kippur, an unusual time to call out a service worker.

Israel Police opened the criminal investigation in July 2015.

By Yvette C. Hammett