As part of a corruption investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, police are looking into the relationship between Australian billionaire James Packer and a friend of Netanyahu’s son, Yair.
Roman Abramov, in his 20s, was appointed to a high-paying position in one of Packer’s companies months after being introduced to him by the younger Netanyahu, despite not having any relevant experience in the business field, Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2) reported on Wednesday.
In a corruption investigation dubbed Case 1000, police are looking into the expensive gifts given to the Netanyahu family by Packer and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, and actions he then allegedly took on their behalf. The Netanyahus have denied any wrongdoing in the case.
According to Hadashot, two years ago Yair Netanyahu attended a party at a home Packer keeps in the coastal town of Caesarea, where he introduced Abramov to the host. The three spent the evening together, the report said, and later went on a cruise on the billionaire’s private yacht.
A few months later Abramov was appointed to a senior position in Packer’s company, Consolidated Press Holdings. His business card identified him as “Business Development Manager,” and he earned tens of thousands of shekels a month.
An acquaintance told the television channel that Abramov was involved in the purchase of high-tech companies but did not have any notable success.
Hadashot noted that in the past Yair Netanyahu has spent time at Packer’s apartment in the Royal Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv, and that it has come to light that Abramov did too.
It is the hiring of Abramov by CPH that police are interested in learning more about, the report said.
In the months since Case 1000 was opened Abramov left CPH and the Netanyahus have reportedly had no contact with Packer. Police have been trying for months to interview Packer as part of the investigation but have so far not been able to set up a meeting with him abroad.
The Netanyahu family said in a statement that the news report was empty gossip churned up by people seeking to damage the prime minister.
“The flood of tendentious leaks continues at a not-so-random moment and in a familiar way,” the statement said. “The weaker the claim, the stronger the leak… all just to harm Prime Minister Netanyahu and the members of his family.”
Another probe into the premier, knows as Case 2000, is focused on an alleged clandestine quid-pro-quo deal made between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher and owner Arnon “Noni” Mozes, in which the prime minister was said to have promised Mozes he would advance legislation to reduce the circulation of Yedioth’s main commercial rival, the freebie Israel Hayom, in exchange for friendlier coverage from Yedioth.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.