The state won’t pursue charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over expense account allegations, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said Thursday, effectively closing a three-year probe into a suspected corruption scandal.
The affair, exposed by Israel’s Channel 10 three-and-a-half years ago, alleged that Netanyahu had engaged in financial misconduct vis-à-vis traveling expenses when he served as a member of the Knesset from 1999-2008.
Weinstein, after accepting the opinions of the police, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office and the state attorney, closed the lengthy investigation of the prime minister.
“There’s no real chance that additional investigations, and even a criminal investigation, would lead to findings of a sufficient level to lead to a trial due to the long time that has passed since the events transpired,” he said in a statement.
The alleged scandal, dubbed “Bibitours” by the Hebrew press, relates to several trips to London and the United States Netanyahu took with family in 2006 when he served as opposition head in the Knesset.
The Likud leader was suspected of taking money from more than one organization for the same trip and of using private jets without clearing it with the Knesset Ethics Committee.
Netanyahu attorney David Shimron said the Knesset paid for his flight to London and that Israel Bonds financed his wife’s travel expenses but mistakenly attributed the receipt to the Likud leader, Haaretz reported.
During the New York trip, Netanyahu claimed the two invoices were provided by one organization, which mistakenly issued one invoice under another name.
The allegations also claimed that businessman Dedi Graucher gave Netanyahu’s driver several hundred dollars in cash in 2008. However, the attorney general stated that he did not find “evidence that Netanyahu was involved in the incident.”
The prime minister, through his attorney, has filed a libel suit against Channel 10 for the sum of NIS 3.5 million ($972,000), according to the news site Walla.