Hollywood Producer Arnon Milchan Interrogated Over Suspicion That He Bribed Netanyahu

This is the first time the businessman has been questioned as a criminal suspect in a case centered around gifts received by the Netanyahus

Israeli-American movie producer Arnon Milchan (L) is flanked by then-Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he announces his donation of $100 million to establish a new Israeli university, at a press conference on March 28, 2005 in Jerusalem.
David Silverman/Getty Images

Businessman and movie producer Arnon Milchan was questioned in London this week over suspicion that he gave bribes to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is the first time Milchan has been questioned under caution, or as a criminal suspect, in what has been dubbed "Case 1000" – a case centered around allegations that Netanyahu and his wife systematically received gifts from benefactors. 

Milchan gave testimony to Israeli police in December 2016. He confirmed that for years, he gave Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu expensive gifts, including boxes of cigars, bottles of champagne and jewelry, at their request.

In the testimony he gave in London, Milchan tried to soften the severity of some of the details revealed during the first time he was questioned.

Netanyahu's inner circle under investigation
People close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspected, convicted, indicted, or questioned in varying criminal cases

According to sources with knowledge of the investigation, Milchan was questioned more than once this week and the testimony he gave strengthens the suspicions in the case.

Milchan's lawyer said in response that "Milchan was asked to complete his testimony Milchan acted with in good faith with the best interests of Israel in mind and while making sure to follow the law."

>> Explained: All the scandals involving Netanyahu, and where they stand <<

At the begining of the year, Haaretz reported that Milchan, who is one of Hollywood’s most prominent producers and a man who owns a 9.8-percent stake in Israeli Channel 10 television, is allegedly one of the main individuals who purportedly bestowed the prime minister with gifts and other perks. Milchan has produced a large number of films, from “Dizengoff 99” in the late 1970s to “Pretty Woman” in 1990.

Over the years, he has remained in touch with the Israeli establishment and has provided assistance with military transactions. Milchan's name has been linked to weapons trading and security deals. According to media reports, he once served as an agent in the scientific liaison bureau of the Defense Ministry and assisted with the purchase of equipment for Israel's nuclear program.

Milchan is also a partner and acquaintance of Australian billionaire James Packer, whose name has also been linked to the case involving the perks. Milchan has given his testimony to police, and his office refused to provide a response for this article.