Report: PM likely to face interrogation on corruption claims
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Report: PM likely to face interrogation on corruption claims

Police mull making Netanyahu’s former chief of staff a state’s witness if he agrees to testify against his ex-boss

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flanked by former chief of staff Ari Harow, left, and former parliamentary adviser Perach Lerner, right, as he arrives at a Likud faction meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flanked by former chief of staff Ari Harow, left, and former parliamentary adviser Perach Lerner, right, as he arrives at a Likud faction meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his family are likely to be interrogated under caution by police as they probe corruption allegations against him, Channel 2 television reported Friday evening.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit acknowledged Sunday that he had ordered an initial probe into accusations against Netanyahu. The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing and predicted the probe will be closed.

According to reports, the attorney general is examining suspicions of money laundering involving the prime minister and an unnamed senior Justice Ministry official, among others.

The report that the prime minister could undergo a police grilling came a day after Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, was interrogated for more than 12 hours by the police’s anti-corruption unit.

According to Channel 2, Harow did not take advantage of his right to remain silent and had cooperated with the police. An employee working at the Prime Minister’s Office was also interrogated.

Police released Harow to house arrest for five days, indicating he may be recalled for further questioning.

Ehud Olmert and Shula Zaken in September 2011 (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Ehud Olmert and Shula Zaken, September 2011 (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Under the current police assessment, if incriminating material against Harow is found, he may be offered a deal to turn state’s witness and testify against Netanyahu. He would not be the first former aide to testify against a previous prime minister. Ehud Olmert is currently serving a 19-month jail sentence for corruption in part after his one-time senior assistant Shula Zaken agreed to provide prosecutors with evidence showing former prime minister tried to obstruct justice in return for less jail time for her own role in the affair.

Allegations of corruption involving Netanyahu have still not ripened to an investigation directly against him, and police is defining its current procedure an examination.

Harow was questioned by police under caution in December for a “range” of offenses he was suspected to have committed while working in the PMO. But on Thursday, investigators in the high-profile crimes unit interrogated Harow about suspected corruption by Netanyahu himself, Israel Radio reported.

The Los Angeles-born Harow was appointed chief of staff of the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014, serving there for a year before leaving to run the successful 2015 election campaign for Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Harow first worked for Netanyahu as foreign affairs adviser during his spell as leader of the opposition. He then spearheaded the 2009 election campaign that catapulted Netanyahu back to office. Following the election, he served as the prime minister’s bureau chief until 2010, managing Netanyahu’s schedule and advising him on a range of issues.

In 2010, between his stints in the PMO, Harow founded 3H Global, an international government relations firm based in Israel. According to the company’s website, the firm was founded “to help governments, NGOs and businesses.”

When Harow was appointed Netanyahu’s chief of staff he gave up control of the company to his brother, Josh Harow, who currently serves as its chief financial officer.

An unnamed source said to be close to the Netanyahu affair said that the information relating to Harow “may publicly embarrass [the prime minister] a great deal, but the level of his own criminality – if any – is still not clear.”

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