Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is set to close the major case against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman without an indictment; however, Lieberman will be charged with breach of trust involving Ambassador Ze'ev Ben-Ari, according to a Channel 2 News report on Tuesday.
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Ben-Ari, who was the ambassador to Belarus, is suspected of informing Lieberman that the Israel Police were conducting an investigation into his affairs in Belarus. During a meeting between the two, Ben-Ari is believed to have passed a note to Lieberman with the name of the company and the bank account that the police were looking into. Ben-Ari was charged with obstructing justice and convicted in a plea bargain following his confession.
The charge of breach of trust against Lieberman is based on Lieberman's allegedly having acted to promote Ben-Ari after the incident.
According to Channel 2, Weinstein decided to close the main case against Lieberman, involving the alleged receipt of huge sums of money from companies he supposedly continued to control while holding public office.
The decision was made after the state prosecutor's office realized about three weeks ago that its key witness, an accountant from Cyprus who had implicated Lieberman in her original testimony, intended to testify for, not against, Lieberman at a trial.
On November 8 the state prosecutor's office informed the High Court of Justice that Weinstein's would make a decision within a month (less than two weeks from Tuesday). The Justice Ministry on Monday declined to comment on the Channel 2 report other than to note: "The attorney general's decision will be made public on the planned date and any other report on a decision is the sole responsibility of the body reporting it."
In contrast to the current apparent intention to close the major case against Lieberman, 18 months ago things looked different. In April 2011, Weinstein announced that he was considering indicting Lieberman, pending the hearing senior officials are entitled to in such cases, on charges of money-laundering, aggravated fraud, breach of trust and witness-tampering.
According to the suspicions, between 2001 and 2008, while Lieberman was a private citizen and also while he served intermittently as a minister and an MK, companies he controlled received millions of dollars from business people with interests in Israel, including Martin Schlaff, Michael Cherney, Dan Gertler and Daniel Gitenstein, although he had declared when he returned to politics that he had severed his ties with these companies. It was decided to take the charge of bribe-taking off the table, although the police investigation had turned up alleged evidence of this as well.
Lieberman is also suspected in another case of witness-tampering because he had spoken to an individual involved in one of the cases against him.
In early 2012, Lieberman was given two hearings and in May 2012, he submitted additional arguments. In late April, Weinstein announced that he would be making a decision in a few weeks, but did not meet the deadline. The Justice Ministry said this time Weinstein would meet the timetable presented to the High Court.