Sara Netanyahu Questioned on Suspicion of Fraud

The prime minister's wife is suspected of falsely displaying receipts for a donation worth thousands of shekels to an Israeli NGO that was made as a payment for her and the premier's media adviser

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Sara Netanyahu tours the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, 2017.
Sara Netanyahu tours the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, 2017.Credit: Andrew Harnik,AP
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, was questioned under caution on Friday by the police for over three hours on suspicion of fraudulently deceiving the state comptroller over the employment terms of the family's former media adviser Nir Hefetz.

The case was investigated as an appendix to the Bezeq-Walla bribery case, following the testimony of state's witness Hefetz. Attorney Dan Shimron, who was also involved in the case, testified to the police at the same time.

Netanyahu's lawyer, Yossi Cohen, said after the questioning that he believes it will turn out to be "another pack of lies and tales by state's witness Nir Hefetz, which have no substance." According to Cohen, "new lies are fabricated" as other cases concerning the Netanyahu family "crash".

The case started with the prime minister's request to the state comptroller, as Haaretz had reported, to arrange Hefetz's employment as the family's spokesman, after he had refused to be paid for his services.

>> Read more: 'Flush your iPhone': The minute this scandal became a Netanyahu bribery case'Sara's top aide in New York': The businessman police say connected Elovitch to the Netanyahus

In 2014, Hefetz and lawyer David Shimron met Comptroller Joseph Shapira, who referred them to his office's permits committee to check if Hefetz's unpaid employment could be authorized. During the talks with the committee, one of the participants suggested that the Netanyahus donate money to a voluntary organization instead. But in fact the committee did not permit Netanyahu to employ Hefetz without payment and he continued working for the family free of charge without a permit.

At a certain stage the Netanyahus' submitted to the permits' committee receipts for 8,000 shekels that were donated to the Yad Sara NGO instead of paying Hefetz. However, Hefetz's testimony to the police in January raised a suspicion that the receipts given in exchange for his wages were in fact for assistance the NGO had given a relative of Sara Netanyahu. The police fraud unit officers are expected to investigate the suspicion that Netanyahu had tried to defraud the state comptroller by giving him the receipts.

If the prosecution decides to indict Netanyahu in this case, it will be added to the indictment already served against her regarding offenses in the prime minister's residences.

Netanyahu associates said on Thursday that they still have no idea what she is expected to be questioned about and over what suspicions.

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