Netanyahu and Milchan.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Details that emerged Tuesday from additional testimony last week by Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan in the criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly support a police decision to recommend indicting the premier.
Police investigators from the Lahav 433 National Fraud Unit met with Milchan at his home in Los Angeles last week and obtained the testimony regarding allegations that Netanyahu accepted illegal gifts such as expensive cigars from the movie mogul, termed Case 1000. Milchan’s testimony, his second in the investigation, was confirmed by a police source who declined to discuss the content of the testimony.
According to a Channel 2 report on Tuesday, police are more likely to recommend indicting Netanyahu as a result of Milchan’s testimony. The billionaire is said to have supported the prior testimony of his secretary, Hadas, who reportedly gave specific details about the gifts given to the Netanyahus and was instrumental in purchasing and coordinating the gifts. Milchan reportedly told investigators he became “fed up” with giving gifts to the prime minister and his family.
The Channel 2 report also said police investigators told Netanyahu he will be questioned additional times, which appears to contradict a statement by Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich on Monday that the investigation is in the “final stages.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s lawyers refuted a number of reports on Tuesday that stated the prime minister was surprised by investigators with new testimony while being questioned by police the day before.
“It is clarified that the prime minister was not surprised by anything,” lawyers Yaakov Weinroth and Amit Hadad said in a statement. “The prime minister answered all the questions asked and left the investigation completely relaxed. We have stated repeatedly that there will be nothing, because there is nothing.”
Netanyahu has not denied receiving the gifts, but claims they were presents given between friends and do not constitute a breach of trust.
Weinroth told Army Radio that Netanyahu had not been presented with “any new document.” The prime minister, he said, was questioned only regarding separate allegations that Netanyahu attempted to broker favorable media coverage with Yediot Aharonot
publisher Arnon Mozes in exchange for weakening the Israel Hayom
newspaper, which has been termed Case 2000.
Police investigators have also contacted US authorities to obtain a deposition from US billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a Netanyahu confidante and owner of Israel Hayom
, Walla News reported.
According to leaks of the conversation reported by Channel 2 in January, Netanyahu allegedly told Mozes he would ask Adelson, whom he referred to as “the gingy,” or redhead, if a bill to weaken Israel Hayom
would be acceptable to him.
Once the investigation is concluded, the police will submit their findings – along with a recommendation to either indict or close the case – to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who will make a final decision on whether or not to indict.