Police probed PM for improper activity while he was finance minister

Report says case was frozen due to evidentiary difficulties.

By
July 11, 2019 01:33
1 minute read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

 
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The police investigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for membership in a private company when he was finance minister and opposition leader, KAN and Channel 13 reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the police froze the case due to evidentiary difficulties.

The report did not specify the evidentiary difficulties, but some of the events in question related to the year 2006, which could mean that even if there might be wrongdoing, the statute of limitations may have lapsed, blocking the possibility of bringing any charges.

Netanyahu denied the reports as complete falsehoods based on a false court filing by a witness in a spin-off defamation case.

In the defamation case, according to the reports, businessman Doron Stempler swore in an affidavit that businessman Walter Soriano, who had interests in the Timna copper mines, had told him that Netanyahu was his business partner.

There were also vague allegations in the report about former Netanyahu top aides Yitzhak Molcho and David Shimron being involved in the business transactions in question.

It was unclear what violation the police suspected Netanyahu of having committed as opposition leader. However, if he used his power as finance minister to advance a business partner’s interests in a way that could also have benefited him, there could be potential criminal liability if the crime is not beyond the statute of limitations.

It was unclear from the report why the case was frozen and not closed, but the report did say that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit himself had signed off on probing the issue.

It does appear that the probe was also frozen around the time that Mandelblit was near his eventual announcement on February 28 to move toward indicting Netanyahu in three more serious corruption affairs.

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