A former caretaker of the Prime Minister’s Residence, Menny Naftali, is set to be granted immunity from prosecution after he told police that he possessed incriminating evidence against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Justice Ministry said Thursday. The evidence was gathered during his term of employment in the service of the Netanyahu family.
Naftali testified voluntarily to police’s 433 fraud unit two weeks ago and recounted some of the details that appeared Tuesday in a special State Comptroller report showing excessive spending by the prime minister and his wife’s at the official residence in Jerusalem. After telling investigators about the financial irregularities for some 90 minutes, Naftali asked for immunity, saying that further testimony would reveal incidents that could implicate him.
Investigators from the fraud unit decided to stop Naftali’s testimony at that point and turn to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein for approval on a request for immunity. The attorney-general’s office examined the two-week old testimony by Naftali and decided to grant him the immunity.
Netanyahu on Thursday hired lawyer Jacob Weinroth to defend him against possible investigation, Channel 2 reported.
Netanyahu is “preparing for a criminal investigation,” the station said, adding that the attorney-general’s office was examining details beyond what was included in the state comptroller report.
Naftali served as caretaker of the Prime Minister’s Residence for nearly two years. He resigned after he wasn’t given the tenure that, he claimed, was promised him. He has filed suit against the Prime Minister’s Office, the deputy director-general of operations at the office, Ezra Saidoff, the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, and Netanyahu himself.
Naftali seeks NIS 1.1 million ($286,000) in damages. He also separately sued Netanyahu for libel following an interview where Netanyahu said Naftali had been fired, even though he claims to have resigned.
Naftali recently asked the Jerusalem Labor Court to summon Sara Netanyahu to testify, and she is set to address the court after the March 17 elections.
News of Naftali’s immunity came after he announced another libel suit against Netanayahu earlier Thursday, this time for a barrage of accusations against him following the publication of the State Comptroller’s report.
The Likud headquarters tried earlier this week to deflect blame for apparent financial impropriety at the Prime Minister’s Residence by blaming Naftali for inflated expenses during the time he served as caretaker.
The spending report released by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira Tuesday detailed lavish spending by Netanyahu and his wife at his official residence in Jerusalem and private home in Caesarea and alleged possible criminal misdeeds by the two.
The Netanyahus could face criminal charges over the accusation that Sara Netanyahu pocketed some NIS 4,000 ($1,035) of bottle refunds for recycling. Accusations that she purchased a set of patio furniture identical to the patio furniture at the official residence, which was subsequently delivered to the Netanyahu’s private residence, could also get them in trouble. A third alleged scandal, over a scheme to overpay electrician Avi Pachima — an apparent Likud apparatchik — by inviting him to do work on weekends and holidays and a subsequent cover-up, may also result in criminal charges.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.