Netanyahu Confidant Gives Detailed Testimony Against the Prime Minister After Striking Dramatic Deal With Police

Shlomo Filber, a former director of Communications Ministry, is testifying about Netanyahu's ties to telecom tycoon in return for lighter sentence

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Shlomo Filber, left, one of Netanyahu's closest allies.
Moti Milrod / Maged Gozani

A former confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave police on Tuesday a detailed account of the premier's ties to a telecom magnate after turning state's evidence.

Shlomo Filber, the former director general of the Communications Ministry under Netanyahu, testified about his knowledge of how the ministry acted on Israel's telecom giant Bezeq's behalf, and about the prime minister's ties with the firm's controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch.

Filber was arrested Sunday on suspicion of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and obstruction of justice in the so-called Case 4000.

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Filber is suspected of granting financial benefits to Elovitch on behalf of the prime minister. In return, police suspect Elovitch skewed coverage on the Walla news website he owns to favor Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.

On Tuesday, before agreeing to turn state's evidence against the premier, Filber went over the key points of his testimony. His testimony began on Wednesday and is expected to take days. During this time, Filber will remain in custody.

Filber's associates say that he was at peace with his decision to turn state's evidence. Both the police and Filber's legal counsels promised to keep the details of their arrangement confidential, however, Haaretz has learned that in exchange for his testimony, Filber will be spared prison. He will, however, be disqualified from civil service and will face disciplinary trial.

As part of the agreement made late Tuesday night, Filber offered police a detailed account of everything he knows about Netanyahu's part in the so-called Case 4000, as well as others involved in the affair.

Filber's testimony is likely to establish the nature of the compensation given by the prime minister for the slanted coverage he received on Walla.

In May 2015, two days after the swearing in of the government, Netanyahu ousted Communications Ministry Director General Avi Berger, and appointed Filber, who had been his confidant for years, to replace him.

Already on his first day in office, Filber met with Elovitch and changed the ministry's viewpoint in favor of the business mogul. Eventually, when the State Comptroller investigated the affair, he feared that Filber had found himself in a situation of "regulatory captivity," a kind of secret agent of Bezeq in the Communications Ministry.

In August, Filder, under investigation by the Securities Authority, Filber said he would not testify against Netanyahu. Asked by Channel 2 News whether Netanyahu instructed him to act in favor of Bezeq, Filber said he "never talked to him about these things. This subject never came up in our conversations."

Netanyahu said on Tuesday in response to the reports: “What has happened over the last two days is simply that the world has gone mad. It’s a scandal. They’ve brought two delusional, false allegations as part of a campaign of persecution against me and my family that has been going on for years already. 

“First, regarding Bezeq: All decisions on Bezeq were made by professional committees, by the professionals, under close legal supervision. There’s no Wild West here. There are no private decisions. All decisions are transparent and subject to oversight. Therefore, the claim that I worked to benefit Bezeq at the expense of substantive considerations is simply and fundamentally absurd.

“As for the second claim, which is no less delusional and no less malicious, regarding the appointment of the attorney general: I never spoke to Nir Hefetz on this issue, he never proposed anything to me on this issue, and you know what? I don’t believe he raised this possibility with anyone.”