Israel Police Grill Sara Netanyahu for Fourth Time Over Alleged Misuse of Funds

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Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu attend an event at Ariel University, June 28, 2017.
Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu attend an event at Ariel University, June 28, 2017.Credit: Moti Milrod

The police questioned Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for the fourth time on Wednesday over the misuse of funds allocated to the prime minister’s residence.

The case has been under investigation for over two years, since State Comptroller Joseph Shapira issued a report on excessive spending at the Netanyahus' official residence.

In May 2016, the police recommended indicting Sara Netanyahu for aggravated fraud over her use of government funds to pay for personal expenses at the family’s private home in Caesarea.

Since then she has been summoned to two complementary investigations, at the State Prosecutor's request, ahead of formulating an opinion that is expected to recommend her indictment.

Wednesday’s interrogation took over 2 hours and was expected to cover the final details in the case ahead of the State Prosecutor’s Office final decision.

The prime minister's wife was questioned at the offices of the Lahav 443 national fraud squad in Lod. The last time she was questioned, in December 2016, she was called in under caution, or as a criminal suspect and police officers interviewed her for over 11 hours.

The investigation against Sara Netanyahu includes three separate cases. In one, she is suspected of using funds from the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem for food and private chefs for family events.

In the second case, the police recommended charging the prime minister’s wife for paying for a live-in caregiver for her elderly father from the budget of the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The third case involves work done by electrician Avi Fahima, a member of the Likud party who has been close to Benjamin Netanyahu for years. Police suspect Sara Netanyahu asked Fahima to do work at the couple's house in Caesarea on weekends, when his fees are higher, in contravention of policy. Records show that for a period of three months, Fahima was called in for work nearly every weekend, including on Yom Kippur.

Police say they also have evidence to charge Sara Netanyahu for moving garden furniture purchased with public funds from the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem to the Netanyahus' private home in Caesarea.

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