State Comptroller Joseph Shapira.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot accept donations from his cousin Natan Milikovsky and businessman Spencer Partridge in order to pay for his defense team, a committee appointed by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira decided Wednesday.
"As a rule, this is not the kind of issue that is justified under the circumstances of the case and is appropriate from a public perspective," a document published on behalf of the committee explained. "As was determined in the past, uniquely personal and serious circumstances are required in order to deviate from this, and such circumstances were not presented to the committee. Legal expenses arising from a criminal investigation, which includes a suspicion of criminal acts in connection with various capital owners, should not be carried out by financiers. Because of all the above reasons it was decided to reject the request."
Netanyahu is being investigated on several parallel corruption cases. Police recommended Sunday that he be indicted for bribery in Case 4000, the most serious of the investigations against him.
Netanyahu's attorneys rejected the committee's decision.
"In light of the combination of the circumstances surrounding the death of attorney Yaakov Weinroth and the security incidents that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been involved with recently," the attorneys responded, "he was unable to answer the committee's questions at the time that was set."
"The new team of attorneys headed by Navot Tel-Tzur has already approached the committee and clarified that in the coming days all the arguments for the request to the committee will be presented, including precedents in which permits were given to elected officials to finance their defense," the statement continued. "We have to wait for the final decision of the committee after it hears the full arguments presented to it."
"About ten months ago, the prime minister turned to the Attorney General regarding two of his associates financing the cost of his legal defense," the Justice Ministry said in a separate statement. "After examining the matter, the Attorney General found that, under the circumstances, the Gifts Law did not apply, but that the Prime Minister should apply to the Permit Committee, which is run by the State Comptroller's Office, to examine whether it is appropriate to allow the requested funding."
"The committee's decision confirmed the position of the Attorney General that under the circumstances, the Gifts Law does not apply and that the Permits Committee is the appropriate forum authorized to discuss the Prime Minister's request. The committee's decision speaks for itself, and it even outlines important rules for general implementation of such issues in the future."