Shaya Segal, a former close adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told investigators that the premier and his wife Sara Netanyahu are “people who love gifts, a lot,” in footage released by Channel 13 Thursday.
“There is a state of mind here, they don’t think they are corrupt when they take all those things,” Segal said — referring to the corruption charges against Netanyahu.
Segal died in 2017.
The undated leaked footage comes from police questioning of Segal during the investigation into Case 1000. The investigation has been beset by frequent leaks from testimony to police.
Netanyahu has been charged with a long-term and wide-ranging illicit relationship with Israeli movie mogul Arnon Milchan, during which, at the Netanyahus’ request, Milchan provided them “a supply line” of “boxes of cigars” and “crates of champagne.”
“We deserve it, it’s obvious we deserve it,” Segal described the Netanyahus’ state of mind to investigators, adding that “you need to know them” to properly understand their mindset.
Segal gave an example when he and three other couples got together to buy a gift for Sara’s birthday, each pledging NIS 1500 ($450) for her to purchase jewelry, only for her to pick a much more expensive item, forcing the store to charge the group a higher sum.
When asked why he deviated from his norms, by giving such an expensive birthday gift, Segal said “because we had to, so she wouldn’t kill us.”
“What could she do?” an investigator asked Segal, to which he responded, “have you ever been screamed at by Sara?”
Several former employees have claimed mistreatment and abuse by the prime minister’s wife.
Netanyahu last week acknowledged he has spoken with Milchan since being indicted in late 2019. The premier denied the chats with Milchan were anything but innocent greetings nor were intended to send Milchan a message concerning the corruption charges.
In 2016, Milchan also provided jewelry to Sara Netanyahu, at her request, and with the prime minister’s knowledge. Along with cigars and champagne supplied in a similar fashion by Australian businessman James Packer, the value of these consignments allegedly totaled some $200,000.
In return, among other matters including helping Milchan with his US visa, the prime minister allegedly sought, on Milchan’s behalf, to widen the provisions of a controversial tax exemption law that remains on the books despite Israeli tax authorities’ concern that it facilitates money laundering.
Netanyahu faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases, as well as bribery in one of them. He has denied wrongdoing and claimed without evidence the charges are an effort by political rivals, the media, law enforcement and prosecutors to remove him from office.
Netanyahu appeared at the Jerusalem District Court earlier this month for a formal reading of the charges against him, pleading not guilty. The evidentiary stage of the trial is expected to be pushed off until after the general elections on March 23.