Lieberman’s pre-indictment hearing begins

Foreign minister faces allegations of fraud, breach of trust, money-laundering and obstruction of justice from 2001-2008.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
January 17, 2012 20:25
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R). (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

 
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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.

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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 witness harassment.

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 minister.

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 prepare.

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 Knesset.

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 Lieberman.

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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