Yair Netanyahu’s Driver to Pay $8,500 in Compensation Over Leaked Tapes

Prime Minister Netanyahu's son had sued for 1 million shekels after his driver, Roy Rosen, recorded him and his friends during a visit to Tel Aviv strip clubs in 2015

Yair Netanyahu at Likud's campaign headquarters after election exit polls were published, Tel Aviv, September 17, 2019.
Ofer Vaknin

Yair Netanyahu’s former driver agreed to a settlement on Sunday under which he will pay the prime minister’s son 30,000 shekels ($8,500) in compensation and apologize to him.

The younger Netanyahu had sued for 1 million shekels after the driver, Roy Rosen, recorded him and his friends during a visit to Tel Aviv strip clubs in 2015. Netanyahu had the use of a government-funded car and driver because of his status as the prime minister’s son.

The suit argued that by making the tape and then sharing it with the media, Rosen slandered Yair Netanyahu and violated his privacy.

Under the agreement, which was submitted to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, Rosen will pay Netanyahu 30,000 shekels to settle the suit. However, he won’t admit to causing him any damage.

He will also offer the following apology: “During my work as the driver who transported Yair Netanyahu, I recorded things that were said in the car. I didn’t do this with intent to harm Yair Netanyahu, who generally treated me in a friendly, respectful manner, and I regret any harm caused him by the conversations’ publication and his feeling that his privacy was invaded.”

Aside from the driver and a security guard, Netanyahu was accompanied by two friends, Roman Abramov and Nir Maimon. The latter is the son of Kobi Maiman, who owns a stake in the Tamar natural gas field.

According to a report published by Channel 12 television when the recordings first went public, Netanyahu could be heard telling Maimon, ostensibly in jest, “Bro, you have to treat me well. My father is giving your father a great deal. We’ll fight in the Knesset for this, bro.”

Later, he added, “My father has just arranged $20 billion for you, and you can’t treat me to 400 shekels?”

The reference was to a controversial deal the prime minister was negotiating at the time with the consortium that owns Tamar. The consortium consists of three companies – Delek, Noble Energy and Isramco. Kobi Maimon owns a stake in the latter.

Under this deal, Netanyahu agreed not to impose price controls on natural gas, even though Tamar’s owners were effectively a monopoly (two of them, Delek and Noble, also own the Leviathan field). This enabled the companies to charge Israeli consumers much more than they otherwise could have, a benefit worth billions of shekels.

Abramov, the third member of the trio, later became Australian billionaire James Packer’s representative in Israel. In the recordings, he could be heard urging, “Don’t let this conversation get out. God save us.”

The recordings indicate that the car dropped Maimon off at his father’s house in Tel Aviv, while Netanyahu and Abramov got out at the Royal Beach hotel, where Packer owns an apartment that police suspect the younger Netanyahu often used.

Immediately after the recordings were published, Yair Netanyahu said, “In a nighttime conversation, under the influence of alcohol, I said nonsense about women and other nonsensical things that shouldn’t have been said. These remarks don’t represent who I am, the values I was raised on or what I believe. I regret these remarks and apologize if anyone was hurt by them. What I said to Maimon was a bad joke, and anyone with sense understands this. I’ve never been interested in the natural gas deal and knew nothing about its details.”