Another investigation into Netanyahu?

A previously-thought-closed probe into claims Benjamin Netanyahu hid funds received from a US non-profit is still being looked into by police and may form the basis for a plea bargain by the prime minster’s former chief of staff, Channel 10 news reports.

Odelia Karmon, a former adviser to Netanyahu when he served as leader of the opposition, told police her former boss attempted to cover up payments she received from American Friends of Likud while under his employment, according to recordings obtained by the Haaretz daily in September.

The case involves US-born Ari Harow, who headed American Friends of Likud from 2003-2006 and served as Netanyahu’s bureau chief between 2008-2010, and chief of staff from 2014-15.

The suspicions are that American Friends of Likud financed overseas trips for Netanyahu’s wife Sara and underwrote the salary of Karmon at a cost of $10,000 per month. The period that had been under investigation was prior to 2009, when Harow was in charge. Netanyahu returned to the prime minister’s chair in 2009 and has remained in power since.

The probe, which was thought to have been closed by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, has not yet been turned into a full-blown criminal investigation, but may become one soon, according to Channel 10.

Police are reportedly looking into the possibility of signing a plea bargain with Harow in order to obtain his help in the two ongoing criminal investigations into the prime minster. Tapes of quid pro quo negotiations between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Moses, which have become the basis for what is known as Case 2000, were reportedly recorded by Harow and uncovered by police during a separate corruption investigation.

Channel 10 also reported that Netanyahu’s former senior adviser Perach Lerner is close to signing a plea bargain in an investigation for another corruption case involving her allegedly using connections in the Prime Minister’s Office to obstain contracts for her husband’s PR firm. This case does not directly involve Netanyahu and would therefore not be connected to the other investigations.

— Raoul Wootliff

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