Lawmakers Urge State to Probe French Tycoon's Alleged Massive Contribution to Netanyahu

If statements made by Arnaud Mimran are true, says MK Ksenia Svetlova, then Netanyahu is 'tramping underfoot the ethical standards expected of an elected official.'

Netanyahu dining in a restaurant with the Mimran family. The relationship started with the father, Jacques Mimran (left, looking at the camera), who was convicted of bribery in a different case.
© Mediapart, all rights reserved. Published in Haaretz by special permission.

Several lawmakers have called for a state investigation into an allegation made by a French tycoon that he had financed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election campaign to the tune of 1 million Euros.

MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) asked the attorney general and the state comptroller to investigate the statements, made to a French court on Thursday by Arnaud Mimran, the main suspect in the great theft dubbed “the sting operation of the century."

Sources close to Netanyahu said Mimran’s statements were “lies and deceit.”

Svetlova wrote Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and State Comptroller Joseph Shapira that if Mimran’s statements are true, this would be a case of “tramping underfoot the ethical standards expected of an elected official, especially the prime minster.”

Svetlova added that the “smell of ostensible corruption reeks from afar.” She noted that the prime minister and certainly his lawyers were familiar with the law, which caps individual contributions at 11,480 shekels ($2970) for campaign for election to the Knesset and at 45,880 for election to party chairmanship. 

MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) also wrote the state comptroller, urging him to look into the matter saying: “Individuals close to the prime minister denied the allegations, but this is not enough; a deeper investigation by your office is needed immediately.”

MK Zahava Galon (Meretz) said Thursday she would also approach the state comptroller on the affair. “All the evidence indicates that Mr. Netanyahu has had close and wide-ranging ties with the Mimran family and Arnaud Mimran testified today under oath in a French court that he gave Netanyahu a scandalous check for a million Euros to cover his campaign expenses.” Galon said that if the allegations prove true, “of course he cannot continue as prime minster, and so I will ask the state comptroller to examine the ostensibly criminal facts emerging from Mimran’s testimony.”

A joint investigation by Haaretz and the French website Mediapart, published last month, showed that Mimran financed vacations for Netanyahu and his family in the Alps and on the French Riviera. Mimran also lent Netanyahu his apartment in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, taking him to a prestigious nightclub during Netanyahu’s visit to Paris. Arnaud’s name features prominently in the list of foreign donors that was compiled by Netanyahu on the eve of his return to power, as published by journalist Raviv Drucker on Channel 10 News.

Mimran is suspected of stealing at least 282 million euros from the French Finance Ministry through a deception involving the rolling over value-added tax in deals relating to carbon dioxide capping. The focus of the court discussion on Thursday was to determine whether senior figures have succeeded until now in protecting Mimran from being indicted. In this context, Mimran’s close relations with Benjamin Netanyahu came up.