Foreign Funds at Center of New Police Investigation Against Netanyahu

Channel 2 report says the money transfers under examination took place since Netanyahu resumed office in 2009.

Prime Minister Netanyahu in Knesset, June, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Police have been investigating whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received funds illegally from foreign donors, Israel's Channel 2 reported on Monday.

The report said that the money transfers being looked into took place after Netanyahu resumed office as prime minister in 2009.

The investigation is being conducted by a small group of police detectives and attorneys.

According to the report, the investigation is not limited to Israel and requires questioning abroad as well. Officially Israeli law enforcement officials have described the information gathering as an "examination," but in effect it is a full-fledged investigation, and all acceptable steps are being taken except for summoning suspects for questioning.

Netanyahu, on an official trip to Africa, told reporters during a flight from Entebbe in Uganda to Nairobi in Kenya: "Every time I leave for a historic visit abroad there's talk on some investigation. That's rubbish."

Last month Gidi Weitz revealed in Haaretz that Attorey General Avihai Mandelblit has been holding intensive consultations for weeks about material related to Netanyahu. 

The consultations have been joined at times by senior prosecutors and sometimes the head of police investigations. They have been shown material gathered to see whether the information has any criminal potential.

Contrary to his predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein, Mandelblit holds meetings with relatively few participants on issues regarding Netanyahu. Well-informed sources have told Haaretz that Mandelblit aspires to swiftly complete handling the material gathered against Netanyahu.

"There is a lot of movement with regard to the incidents involving the prime minister," an informed source said.

After Haaretz exposed material being gathered against Netanyahu Channel 2 reported that Lahav 433, the elite police investigations unit was involved in examining cases allegedly involving the prime minister. The examination is in addition to three other affairs regarding the prime minister's residence, the Bibi-tours affair, and the Mimran affair. Channel 10 reported at the time that "new information has been received on many subjects, very in depth, credible and backed up information."

Details of these cases involved police recommendations issued at the end of May to indict Netanyahu's spouse, Sara, for suspected irregularities, such as ordering food from private chefs for a family event, and a live-in caregiver for her father at the public's expense.

At around the same time, Israeli authorities renewed an investigation into questions regarding the funding of Netanyahu and family members' trips during the period he served as finance minister around a decade ago.

Another pending investigation into Netanyahu's affairs centers on alleged links to French tycoon, Arnaud Mimran, who has previously donated money to him and is currently standing trial for fraud in France.

An Haaretz and investigation has found suspicions that Mimran has in the past financed vacations for Netanyahu and family members. During his trial Mimran has testified that he gave Netanyahu a million Euro for his election campaign. Later Mimran corrected that, saying the sum was actually much less and that it was paid out before Netanyahu's election to public office.