Lieberman Quizzed for Fourth Time on Fraud Suspicions

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was questioned by the police for the fourth time yesterday on suspicions of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and money-laundering. During his previous interrogations, he answered all the questions posed to him and presented a consistent description of his involvement in the firm at the center of the inquiry, M.L. 1, Haaretz has learned.

Lieberman's daughter Michal founded M.L. 1 in June 2004, the same month her father resigned from the cabinet (after having quit the Knesset a year earlier). Lieberman was employed by the firm during his almost two-year hiatus from politics, and during this time, he said, he introduced Michal to businessmen and essentially trained her. When he reentered the Knesset in 2006, she began running the firm on her own, and since then, he has not been involved, he said.

Since M.L. 1 was founded in 2004, it has received some NIS 12 million from overseas sources, and police consider much of this money suspect. But Lieberman said he had nothing to do with this money, noting that it was all received by other suspects in the case, not by him. And since he has not been involved in the company in recent years, he added, he does not know where the money came from.

As far as is known, the other suspects have confirmed this version of events.

Lieberman was also asked to explain why he received NIS 850,000 from the company, defined as "severance pay" and "compensation for unused vacation days," in 2006-07, even though he was serving as a Knesset member, minister and deputy prime minister at that time. He responded that having quit the firm to return to the Knesset in 2006, these severance payments were mandated by his contract with M.L. 1.

The evidence in the case includes some 3,500 documents, including 1,000 seized from the offices of Lieberman's attorney, Yoav Many, and another 2,500 received from Cyprus last September. The latter include bank records of financial transfers between a long list of accounts allegedly opened by Lieberman's associates, as well as documentation of transactions by various companies that police believe strengthen the suspicions of money laundering.

Yesterday's questioning lasted eight hours. As with Lieberman's previous interrogations, police announced it only after it was over.