(photo credit: WWW.ARIHAROW.COM)
The Israel Police stepped up its investigation against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday after the anti-corruption unit Lahav 433 detained his former chief of staff, Ari Harow, for 15 hours.
Harow was taken for questioning immediately upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport from a business trip to the United States.
After his interrogation, Harow was confined to house arrest for five days.
The police spent half the time asking Harow about his fund-raising work for Netanyahu as his bureau chief from 2009 to 2010, and as the head of American Friends of the Likud prior to that. Police reportedly tried to get him to reveal incriminating information on Netanyahu by questioning Harow under caution after initially asking him for testimony as a witness.
Late Thursday night, media reports claimed that police had summoned another former Netanyahu aide who was reportedly also involved in fund-raising on the prime minister’s behalf. Additional officials who worked in the Prime Minister’s Office are expected to be questioned as the investigation continues.
The rest of the questioning on Thursday focused on the sale of Harow’s company, 3H Global, when he returned to Netanyahu’s office as his chief of staff in 2014. He was required to sell the company due to a possible conflict of interest, and because he did not receive the full sum to which he was entitled, Harow is suspected of a fictitious sale.
Channel 2 reported that investigators prepared well for the questioning, showing him statements from dozens of banks.
“The information Harow provided could be very embarrassing for Netanyahu, but it is not clear yet whether it could incriminate him,” a police source told Channel 2.
Police initially emphasized that Harow was not arrested or being investigated, but was called in to give testimony. Harow has been the subject of a police investigation since late last year, and was questioned under caution for a “range of offenses” in December 2015, including suspicions of breach of trust and fraud.
Harow was born in Los Angeles in 1973 and made aliya with his family in 1985. He served Netanyahu in different capacities for the past 15 years before he was appointed chief of staff at the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014. He served in the position for roughly one year before leaving to run Netanyahu’s successful reelection campaign.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced earlier this week that he had ordered an initial probe of Netanyahu as part of a wider unspecified investigation surrounding alleged money-laundering.Daniel K. Eisenbud contributed to this report.