Attorney General Now Says Netanyahu's $300,000 Gift From Cousin Was Illegal

Avichai Mendelblit tells High Court he didn't know when approving the money transfer, meant to cover the prime minister's legal fees, that Netanyahu had business ties to his cousin Nathan Milikowsky

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Nathan Milikowsky
Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Nathan MilikowskyCredit: John Lamparski / WireImage / Getty Images IL, Haim Tzach / GPO
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

The $300,000 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received from his cousin were given illegally, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit told the High Court of Justice on Tuesday. In 2019, Haaretz revealed that Netanyahu had received $300,000 from Nathan Milikowsky for his legal defense, without obtaining the necessary approval.

In response to a petition from the Movement for Quality Government and the TLM anti-corruption group demanding that Netanyahu return the funds he received, the attorney general wrote that when he approved the gift in 2018, it was because the prime minister had claimed that Milikowsky was only his relative.

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Mendelblit now says that an investigation into a related affair surrounding Netanyahu's shares in a company controlled by Milikowsky shows that the two men had a business relationship that takes priority over their family ties in determining that the gift was improper.

In 2019, Haaretz reported that Milikowsky, in his deposition for what is known as the luxury gifts case against Netanyahu, swore that he and the prime minister did not have a business relationship. The state comptroller's permits committee found, however, that from 2007-10, Netanyahu held shares in Seadrift Coke, a company controlled by Milikowsky that makes products for the steel industry.

According to sources close to the investigations into the prime minister, who is on trial for corruption in unrelated cases, Milikowsky told investigators in Apri ofl 2017 that his financial relations with Netanyahu revolved around the thousands of dollars that he gave him in cash. According to the sources, Milikowsky was asked explicitly if he and Netanyahu maintained business ties, which he denied.

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