Netanyahu May Have Submitted False Financial Statements, Watchdog Tells Attorney General

State comptroller bases suspicions on statements Netanyahu gave to permits committee, which recently barred him from receiving funds from his cousin to cover legal defense

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement during a news conference in Jerusalem, April 3, 2019.
\ RONEN ZVULUN/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have made false reports to a committee in the State Comptroller's Office regulating potential conflicts of interests. In a letter delivered to Israel's attorney general, the State Comptroller's Office's legal advisor warened that Netanyahu's financial statements to the permits committee raise criminal suspicions.

The legal adviser's document is based on financial statements Netanyahu provided the committee and correspondences between the premier's representatives and former State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who served until 2012.

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Channel 12 News reported on Thursday that current State Comptroller Joseph Shapira conducted a comprehensive examination of all of Netanyahu's statements to the committee since he became prime minister a decade ago.

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira
Olivier Fitoussi

The permits committee authorizes or forbids ministers from engaging in activities that might cause conflict of interests. Most recently, it prohibited Netanyahu from receiving $300,000 from his cousin Nathan Milkowsky and tycoon friend Spencer Partrich for legal fees in his corruption cases, and ordered him to pay back the amount he had already taken without getting permission.

Following Netanyahu's petition to the High Court of Justice, it was decided to hold another discussion on his request to the permits committee. Its head, Awni Habash, eventually resigned from the position, saying that he was under political pressure to change the decision. State Comptroller Shapira considered replacing members of the committee but then decided not to, fearing for his reputation.