JOINT LIST chairman Ayman Odeh holds a piece of paper with the word ‘corrupt’ on it toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
British billionaire Chaim “Poju” Zabludowicz gave testimony to police investigators last week over alleged gifts and favors he gave to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, while Netanyahu served as finance minister.
The testimony, first reported by Channel 2 on Saturday and confirmed by The Jerusalem Post, adds to a list of two other billionaires – Israeli Arnon Milchan and Australian James Packer – who are suspected of giving the prime minister and his family gifts in a manner that constituted a breach of trust.
According to Channel 2, Zabludowicz said he voluntary gave the testimony while visiting from London and is not a suspect in the investigation.
Throughout the investigation, the premier has denied any wrongdoing, repeating his mantra: “There will be nothing, because there is nothing.”
Benjamin Netanyahu dismissive of corruption allegations on January 2, 2017
Born in Finland, Zabludowicz also holds British citizenship and maintains deep ties to Israel. Zabludowicz’s father, Shlomo, founded Israeli manufacturer Soltam Industries and the younger Zabludowicz has a stake in El Al and other business interests in Israel.
Netanyahu was questioned for a fourth time in March on suspicions that he and his wife received illegal gifts of cigars, champagne and jewelry from Milchan with a total value in the tens of thousands of shekels.
Meanwhile, the police are reportedly still seeking to obtain testimony from Packer, who is suspected of giving Netanyahu’s son, Yair, gifts.
Last week Channel 2 reported that the investigation into gifts received by Netanyahu will continue for at least two more months.
This appears to contradict a statement by Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich in early March that police investigators likely would finish “within a number of weeks.” In late January, Alsheich also said that the investigation was in its final stages.
According to the report, police are still likely to recommend an indictment in the investigation, termed Case 1000. However, even if recommended, it would likely not be filed by the Attorney-General’s Office until at least the summer of 2018.
Police are also investigating criminal suspicions termed Case 2000, in which Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon Mozes and Netanyahu are alleged to have conspired to weaken the Israel Hayom free daily in exchange for favorable coverage of the premier.