Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson will reportedly testify for a second time on Monday as part of an ongoing corruption investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to Hebrew media reports, Adelson’s wife Miriam will also meet with investigators from the police Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit on Monday, marking the first time she will provide testimony in the probe.
Channel 2 news reported Sunday that Miriam Adelson will be asked about ties between the couple’s Israel Hayom daily newspaper and Netanyahu.
Adelson first met with police in May. At the time, he reportedly told them that he never discussed an alleged quid pro quo media deal at the heart of one corruption probe into the prime minister.
Adelson, who was in Israel in May for the visit of US President Donald Trump, was questioned by police who are investigating the so-called Case 2000, in which Netanyahu and Arnon “Noni” Mozes, publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, are suspected of hatching a deal under which the prime minister would advance legislation to reduce the free, pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily’s circulation in exchange for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
According to Hebrew media reports from a month ago, Adelson, who is not a suspect, told investigators that Netanyahu never spoke to him about his conversations with Mozes, nor about the so-called “Israel Hayom Bill” proposed by Labor MK Eitan Cabel to make it illegal to distribute a full-sized newspaper for free — a proposal to which the prime minister was so opposed, some reports have claimed, that he called new elections in 2015.
Adelson, who has been a staunch backer of Netanyahu and who donated millions to the Trump campaign, is the driving force behind “Israel Hayom,” which for years has been firmly pro-Netanyahu, though some observers have noticed a shift in its coverage of late.
Adelson went on to say that Netanyahu had never talked to him about advertising prices or circulation figures of the paper. The interview lasted some three hours and police were weighing whether to summon Netanyahu for a further round of questioning in light of what Adelson told them, Channel 2 reported last month.
In recordings of their meetings that were seized by police, Netanyahu and Mozes reportedly can be heard referring to Adelson as “the gingy [redhead].”
Channel 2 News reported in January that Mozes had provided evidence showing that Netanyahu wielded huge influence over Israel Hayom — evidence that suggested the prime minister plays an active role in the Israeli media and contradicted an affidavit he gave stating that he did “not have, and has never had, any ties of control or any other organizational ties, in any form, with Israel Hayom, or with newspaper staff or journalists writing for it, that would influence the paper’s editorial considerations or its contents.”
Police had wanted to question Adelson for some time prior to the May sit down, hoping to establish whether the Netanyahu-Mozes conversations were ever translated into action.
In addition to Case 2000, Netanyahu is a suspect in a separate corruption investigation known as Case 1000, which revolves around alleged illicit gifts given to Netanyahu and his family from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne said to have been given to the prime minister and his wife, Sara, by Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Netanyahu has denied all of the allegations against him in both cases.