Israeli PM's wife charged with fraud, breach of trust

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara speak during the opening of a special exhibit on Jewish presence in Jerusalem at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City

Netanyahu's wife indicted on fraud charges | TheHill

Israeli prosecutors have charged Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister's wife, with crimes including fraud and breach of trust.

The prosecution also indicted Seidoff, the former Prime Minister's Office deputy director-general, on Thursday for the same offenses as Netanyahu, while adding the offense of falsifying documents and with a total fraud amount of NIS 393,000 (approximately $108,000).

The Netanyahus have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said the raft of police investigations launched against them were part of a plot by the prime minister's political enemies to destabilise his government. She also used almost $10,000 in state funds to pay for private chefs, prosecutors say.

If convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of five years behind bars, though that seemed unlikely.

Her husband is also the subject of several corruption investigations which have caused a stir in Israeli politics, prompting speculation he may eventually be forced to step down.

Mrs Netanyahu's lawyers said there was no fraud or breach of trust, and she had not been aware of the procedures.

It was not immediately clear when her trial would begin.

"This is the first time in Israel and in the world that the wife of a leader is brought to justice over food trays", the post continued.

Thursday's charges came after Nir Hefetz, a former Netanyahu family aide turned state's witness, provided testimony to prosecutors regarding Sara Netanyahu's alleged misappropriation of public funds for personal use. Media reports have been quick to point out that the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin resigned in 1977 shortly before his wife was indicted on charges concerning a foreign bank account.

According to the indictment, Netanyahu falsely claimed there was no cook at the time in the Prime Minister's Residence when in reality there was a full-time cook when she claimed the expenses.

In a statement, lawyers for Sara Netanyahu called the indictment "absurd and delusional" while proclaiming her innocence.

In one instance, Netanyahu and family members were suspected of receiving jewelry, cigars and champagne worth about $285,000.

In another case, investigators suspect the premier of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot, a top Israeli newspaper, for more favourable coverage.

Police are still investigating suspicions Netanyahu arranged regulatory benefits for the country's biggest telecommunications provider, Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp., in exchange for sympathetic coverage by its online news outlet.

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