(photo credit: WWW.ARIHAROW.COM)
Police recommended that Ari Harow, a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Netanyahu, be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering over allegations that he advanced business interests while employed by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Police suspect Harow of fictitiously selling his government relations firm 3H Global while maintaining ownership when he began his position in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014. Harow was required to sell the company due to a possible conflict of interest.
However, previous reporting uncovered that Harow allegedly did not receive the full sum to which he was entitled, thus arousing suspicions of a fictitious sale.
“As part of a conflict of interest agreement Harow signed before assuming his role as chief of staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, Harow pledged to sell a company he owned and not to engage in matters relating to it. The findings of the investigation indicate that the sale of the company was only apparent through false representation, when in fact he continued to hold, enjoy the profits and promote [the company’s] interests during his public employment,” police said in a statement.
Police also recommended indicting Harel Arnon, who was Harow’s lawyer and is set to represent the government in the Supreme Court case on the controversial Settlements Regulation Bill, which legalizes West Bank settlements built on private Palestinian land, if they were built in good faith, in return for compensation.
Arnon is suspected of facilitating the alleged fictitious sale.
Both Harow’s laywer, Roy Blecherand, and Arnon’s lawyer, Yaron Kostelitz, told Channel 2 that their clients are innocent.
The recommendation to indict is the result of an undercover police investigation that began in mid-2015 and was made public at the end of that year. Police said evidence was also provided by the economic department of the State Attorney’s Office.
As part of the investigation, Harow was questioned for 14 hours by police in July 2015 and was later released to temporary house arrest.
The investigation of Harow uncovered recordings of the prime minister and Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes allegedly negotiating favorable coverage of Netanyahu in exchange for his support of a bill to weaken Israel Hayom. The recordings have led to a criminal investigation of the prime minister, dubbed Case 2000. Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira asked Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit for the evidence in Case 2000, due to allegations that the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom is an illegal political gift provided by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson to Netanyahu.
Channel 2 reported that Mandelblit said he would only deliver the evidence at the conclusion of the criminal investigation.
Harow, who holds dual US-Israeli citizenship, was born in Los Angeles in 1973 and immigrated to Israel with his family in 1985. He served Netanyahu in different capacities for 15 years before he was appointed chief of staff at the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014. He served in the position for roughly one year before leaving to run Netanyahu’s successful reelection campaign.