Police Recommend Criminal Charges Against Netanyahu's Former Chief of Staff Ari Harow

Evidence supports suspicion that the sale of U.S.-born Harow's firm, before returning to the Prime Minister's Office, was fictitious.

Netanyahu and Ari Harow, 2009.
Daniel Bar-On

Police recommended on Thursday to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former chief of staff, Ari Harow, on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, money laundering and other graft counts.

The U.S.-born Harow served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff between 2014 and 2015. Police have been investigating Harow on suspicion that his sale of his consulting company was fictitious.

Police said it has found evidentiary basis for bribery, breach of trust, aggravated fraudulent receipt, conspiring to commit a crime and money laundering, while he served as the prime minister's chief of staff. 

A police statement said that under a conflict of interest agreement before assuming his post at the Prime Minister's Office, Harow was obligated to sell his company he owned and not to have any ties to it. The findings of the investigation indicate that the sale of his firm was fictitious and that he effectively maintained control of the firm and continued to profit from it and to advance its interests.

Harow managed Netanyahu’s office when he was opposition leader in 2007. From 2008-2010 Harrow was director of the Prime Minister's Bureau under Netanyahu. After leaving the position in March 2010, Harow opened 3H Global, a privately owned consulting and business development firm. In 2013, with his appointment as Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Harow signed a conflict of interest agreement committing to refrain from any involvement in running it.

Ari Harow at a police station, July 2016.
Ilan Assayag

Harow later presented an agreement for the sale of 3H Global to the legal adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office. It stated that the company was being purchased by VJD Holdings LLC, with an address in Manhattan. Haaretz found that the address provided for VJD Holdings houses a doctor’s office.

The amount that Harow received in the sale also prompted questions. Although the 3H Global was in existence for only about four years and had not established substantial business, it was sold for $3 million, to be paid to Harow in 12 equal installments between April 2014 and January 2017.

As required by law, a trustee was appointed on Harow’s behalf who was to report to the Prime Minister’s Office regarding the execution of the sale. Although the reports showed that some of the funds did get paid to Harow, they were not paid in accordance with the contract. That raised suspicions that the sale was fictitious, that Harow was continuing to manage it while also serving as Netanyahu’s chief of staff and that he might have taken advantage of his senior position in the Prime Minister’s Office to further the business.

Harow was questioned by police for the first time in December, 2015. While searching Harow's belongings, investigators chanced on a recording of Netanyahu talking with Arnon (Noni) Mozes, publisher of the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. That tape is now the center of a criminal investigation against Netanyahu, in which the prime minister has already been questioned as a suspect.