Police Seek Mazuz Approval to Question Lieberman Under Caution

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman is suspected of laundering millions of shekels through front companies.

Police asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz Wednesday to approve the interrogation of Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman under caution. Lieberman is suspected of laundering millions of shekels through front companies set up for him by his lawyer, Yoav Many. He is also accused of fraud and breach of trust.

The request was made during a meeting in which top police officials updated Mazuz, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and the head of the state prosecution's economic affairs division, Avia Alef, on the investigation.

Yisrael Beiteinu officials said the timing of the police request appeared to indicate political motives. Lieberman is scheduled to meet with President Peres today to tell him whom he supports as prime minister. As the head of the third-largest party, Lieberman has been wooed by Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni. Political observers expect Lieberman to recommend a unity government rather than name either party leader as his preferred candidate.

"It's no surprise that just before Lieberman goes to the president, the police come out with a headline about his investigation, just as it was no surprise that it happened two weeks before the election and it won't be a surprise if it happens just before he's appointed minister," a Yisrael Beiteinu official said.

Lieberman is expected to be summoned for questioning within the next few weeks.

At Wednesday's meeting with prosecution officials, police investigators presented new evidence they say strengthens allegations against Lieberman. The new material was collected after police questioned seven people close to Lieberman late last month, including his daughter, Michal Lieberman, and Many. They are suspected of helping funnel money to Lieberman, but police said they have not pinpointed the source of the funding.

A company called M.L. 1, headed by Michal Lieberman, received NIS 11 million from unidentified sources abroad for "business consulting" between 2004 and 2007, as Haaretz reported last month. The company paid Avigdor Lieberman a salary of more than NIS 2.5 million between 2004 and 2006, when he was not yet a Knesset member or cabinet minister. Michal Lieberman is listed as CEO and sole shareholder of the company, but police suspect she was serving as a front woman for her father.

Police were able to question the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman's associates because of a court decision last year allowing investigators to examine thousands of documents that Lieberman had deposited with Many.