Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is reportedly expected to announce his decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara Netanyahu for diverting public funds for her private housekeeping expenses.
Sources close to the investigation told Channel 2 on Friday that Mandelblit will likely make the announcement sometime over the next two weeks.
Sara Netanyahu is suspected of improper behavior and misuse of state funds relating to the Prime Minister’s Residence, including receiving goods under false pretenses, falsifying documents and breach of trust. The attorney general was reported to be poised to bring charges for four separate allegations.
The most serious involves the hiring of electrician Avi Fahima, a Likud Central Committee member. A committee charged with overseeing residence expenditures — and which included the Prime Minister’s Office legal adviser — ruled against the hiring of Fahima, but he was employed nonetheless.
Further allegations relate to the use of state funds for purchasing furniture designated for the Caesarea home. The furniture was apparently purchased for the official residence in Jerusalem and then moved to the Netanyahu home, while their older furniture was taken to the PM’s residence to replace it.
The prime minister’s wife is also suspected of improper use of state funds for her late father’s medical care and overcharging state coffers for private meals ordered to the Prime Minister’s Residence.
The decision to launch the investigation came in light of the state prosecutor’s recommendation, after allegations were raised in a 2015 report by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira that detailed lavish spending by Netanyahu and his wife at their official residence in Jerusalem, as well as at their private home in Caesarea.
Netanyahu’s lawyer has called the allegations against her “ridiculous” and part of an overall “persecution of the Netanyahu family.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu is under investigation in a number of separate allegations of financial misdeeds and supposed illicit ties to executives in media, international business and Hollywood.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.
One investigation involving Netanyahu, dubbed by police as “Case 1000,” concerns claims he and his wife improperly accepted lavish gifts from wealthy supporters, including Australian billionaire James Packer and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
The second investigation, “Case 2000,” concerns Netanyahu’s alleged attempts to strike a deal with publisher Arnon Mozes of the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper group to promote legislation to weaken Yediot’s main competitor, Yisrael Hayom, in exchange for more favorable coverage of Netanyahu by Yediot.
A key former aide, Avi Harow, has turned state’s witness and reportedly given evidence relating to some of the investigations.
In what is known as “Case 3000,” authorities are investigating alleged corruption and bribery involved in multi-billion-shekel naval deals with the German shipbuilding company ThyssenKrupp.
Netanyahu’s personal attorney David Shimron is suspected of pushing for a NIS 6 billion ($1.5 billion) defense contract to purchase submarines for the Israeli Navy and other vessels for protecting the country’s maritime natural gas fields, an effort that could have netted him a hefty fee. Netanyahu’s own role in the purchase decision, including his insistence that Thyssenkrupp be exempted from the usual Defense Ministry tender process, raised concerns of a conflict of interest for Shimron.
Two other suspects are the former deputy head of the National Security Council Avriel Bar-Yosef and ThyssenKrupp’s Israeli agent Miki Ganor.
Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case but has been asked to testify.
In addition, in what is sometimes called “Case 4000,” Shlomo Filber, the director-general of the Communications Ministry, is under investigation over securities offenses related to a merger involving the national telephone company Bezeq.
Israel’s state comptroller released a report in July that accused Netanyahu of failing to originally disclose his close ties with Bezeq head Shaul Elovitz, and raised suspicions that the prime minister — who at the time held the post of communications minister — and Filber made decisions at the ministry in favor of Bezeq.