Israel’s AG: Decision on Lieberman probe to be made in coming weeks
Attorney General Weinsten states his office is waiting for additional written statements from the Foreign Minister, accused of fraud and money laundering.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein stated on Monday evening that a decision concerning the criminal investigation into Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beitenu chairperson Avigdor Lieberman will be reached in the coming weeks. Weinstein’s statement came after a request from The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, to clarify when a ruling on the case will be made.
In his letter to the organization, the Attorney General explained that his office is waiting to receive additional written statements from Lieberman’s defense attorney, following hearings that took place in January and February. Weinstein, declared that the additional statements must be delivered by next weekend, at the latest. The Attorney General’s office estimated that following delivery of the written statements, a decision should be reached in a number of weeks.
Last April, Weinstein reported that he was considering charging Lieberman with fraud, breach of trust, fraud in aggravated circumstances, money laundering, and harassing a witness. According to suspicions, Lieberman committed the acts between 2001 and 2008, a period spanning both his life as a private citizen, as well as time served as an MK and minister. During that time, companies owned by Lieberman received payments of millions of dollars from private businessmen.
If Lieberman stands trial, he will be unable to serve as a minister in the next government. However, if the process ends in a plea bargain, Lieberman could have to resign for one term, which could end in the upcoming elections. A similar arrangement was made with Tzachi Hanegbi.
The affair in question began in 1997, after Lieberman resigned from his position as director general of the Prime Minister’s office, as Lieberman engaged in business activities in Israel and around the world. Lieberman founded or purchased companies in Israel and in other countries, including Cyprus and the Virgin Islands.
According to suspicions, these companies maintained extensive financial ties with businessmen around the world with interests in Israel. Businessmen reportedly transferred large sums of money to Lieberman’s companies, either in large, single payments, or smaller payments made from time to time.
As Lieberman returned to politics, he sold all of his holdings, and currently has no ties to any of them, however evidence collected by police shows that he continued to receive money from the companies in question during the time he served as an MK and minister.
Suspicions indicate that the companies listed under the names of front men, who took orders from Lieberman, allowing him to continue controlling his private business interests.
Meanwhile, Lieberman, speaking at the first Yisrael Beiteinu faction meeting of the parliamentary session, said that "the party's preferred date for the election is June 14," adding that during the campaign "everything goes into the freezer. If we can hold elections next week, we will be ready by next week."
Lieberman also expressed hope that the next government will focus on internal affairs. "I have said from the beginning that it is doubtful if we can reach a breakthrough in the peace process, and we should focus our efforts on internal matters rather than foreign affairs."
"My belief is that changes in the system of government, as well as religion and state are much more important than other things," Lieberman said.