Police: Lieberman Probe Likely to Result in Corruption Charges

Police say investigation likely to produce charges of money laundering, fraud, breach of trust.

The corruption investigation into Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is likely to produce charges of money laundering, fraud and breach of trust, police sources said Saturday, adding that questioning of the Yisrael Beiteinu leader was nearing an end.

Unless additional testimony is needed, the police will submit their recommendations on filing an indictment in the coming weeks, the sources said.

They said the investigators were collecting more testimony from Lieberman with the intent to charge him with bribery as well.

Lieberman's testimony, the final stage of the police probe, began last week; the foreign minister will soon undergo one more session before the case is transferred to the State Prosecutor's Office.

Sources close to the investigation said that as long as Lieberman has not finished giving testimony, a final charge sheet cannot be drawn up.

The foreign minister was questioned for five hours Friday by a team from the National Fraud Investigation Unit at an undisclosed location. Investigators presented him with documents outlining computerized financial transactions of firms suspected to be shell companies providing cover to move money to his bank accounts.

Lieberman was asked to describe the origins of the money and how much was transferred, as well as the motives for creating the companies and their activities.

Lieberman was first questioned on the matter in April 2007, but last week was the first time he was asked about thousands of documents obtained by investigators since then.

Sources at Yisrael Beiteinu said this weekend the party would not leave the government even if Lieberman is forced to withdraw from the governing coalition during the investigation. This comes despite Lieberman's recent assertions that the party would quit the government should he be forced to relinquish the foreign ministry portfolio.

Yisrael Beiteinu won't quit government

Party sources told Haaretz that the Yisrael Beiteinu "has too many interests to give up on them, even without Lieberman. Maybe we'll try to switch the foreign ministry post with a less senior placement." The party's interests extend not only to the national government and Knesset, but also to a widespread presence at the municipal level the party created ahead of the last elections, the sources say.

Nonetheless, the possibility Lieberman will step down, and the party's future should he be forced to, are not currently being discussed within Yisrael Beiteinu. The question was first raised a month before the elections, but has since been removed from the party's official talking points. Its official response is, "The investigations have so far taken 13 years, and they'll probably take another 13 years."