The Permits Committee at the State Comptroller’s Office says that it will not consider Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to receive funds from a foreign benefactor to pay for his legal defense in the corruption trial he faces.
Netanyahu had asked the oversight committee to allow an NIS 10 million ($2.9 million) donation from Spencer Partrich, a Michigan-based real estate magnate. Because Partrich also happens to be a witness in one of the cases, the committee had asked the attorney general for his opinion on the matter.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit told the committee he opposed Netanyahu’s request, saying the donation was tantamount to an illicit gift.
In a letter sent to Netanyahu’s attorneys, committee secretary Eden Bizman says that “given the that the attorney general has ruled that the prime minister should not receive funding for his legal defense from Mr. Spencer Patridge, as a witness in the indictment, the amount requested, and considering the nature of the relationship between the prime minister and Mr. Partridge, the request does not meet the rules for receiving a gift in accordance with the Gift Law.”
The committee also says it will not renew discussions on a retroactive request for Netanyahu to receive some $300,000 in funds for legal fees from his cousin Nathan Milikowski.
Since the request was previously rejected by the committee, Netanyahu will have to pay back the funds to Milikowski.