Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's defense attorneys commenced the two-day pre-indictment hearing at the Attorney-General's office Tuesday, testifying that the foreign minister had any connection to illegally obtained funds or straw companies that allegedly funneled the money, Channel 10 news reported.
Lieberman's lawyers argued that the foreign minister was no longer involved in companies that received illicit funds by the time he had entered politics.
What is Lieberman being accused of?
They also said there is no proof that Lieberman ran straw companies before beginning his political career. According to his defense, the Lieberman was involved in "real companies" in the wine and wood trade.
Police suspect that Lieberman obtained NIS 10 million, which was funneled through six to eight straw companies.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein told
Lieberman last April that he planned to indict him, pending a hearing, on
charges of fraud, breach of trust, fraudulent receipt, money-laundering and
Lieberman is suspected of receiving millions of
dollars from private business people, through straw companies, between the years
2001 and 2008, while he was a member of Knesset and a cabinet
The hearing had been set to begin in December, but Weinstein
agreed to postpone it at the request of Lieberman’s lawyers to give them more
time to examine thousands of documents of evidence and properly
Weinstein is expected to make a final decision about whether to
indict Lieberman within months of the hearing.
Lieberman would be under
no obligation to resign from the cabinet or from the leadership of Israel
Beiteinu if he is indicted, but he has said on several occasions that he would
leave those posts to concentrate on his trial. He would have to quit the
Police have been investigating Lieberman for more than 12 years,
and most recently in 2006. On August 2, 2009, police handed over the evidence
they had gathered to the State Attorney’s Office with a recommendation to indict
Police suspect that Lieberman obtained NIS 10 million, which
was funneled through six to eight straw companies.
These acts allegedly
occurred while he served as transportation minister, national infrastructure
minister and strategic affairs minister.
Lieberman is also suspected of
receiving a tip-off from then-ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh in 2008,
which allowed him to subvert an investigation into allegations that Lieberman
had accepted bribes and failed to report income to the tax authorities.
Gil Hoffman and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report
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