AG officially orders criminal investigation into Netanyahus' residences

There is still no suspicion whatsoever of wrongdoing regarding the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself.

By
July 20, 2015 18:25
2 minute read.
Binyamin and Sara Netanyahu

Binyamin and Sara Netanyahu leave for the US.. (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)

 
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Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday ordered a full criminal investigation into affairs involving the Prime Minister’s Residence. An announcement by the Justice Ministry did not name suspects.

It had been rumored since mid-June that a preliminary investigation that had run for several months would turn into a full criminal investigation, but the decision was not made official until Monday.

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Besides the announcement, there are no indications as to which of the numerous affairs are at the heart of the investigation.

They come with sensational names, including: Bottlegate, Furnituregate, and Electriciangate.

Weinstein stated that his decision effectively endorsed the recommendation of State Attorney Shai Nitzan and top police commanders. Bottlegate refers to allegations that Sara Netanyahu may have improperly turned in deposit bottles in exchange for NIS 4,000 cash, though the bottles were bought with state funds.

In February, The Jerusalem Post surveyed a range of experts, none of whom believed Bottlegate could possibly carry criminal charges.
Sara Netanyahu and Moshik Galamin inside PM's residence

Furnituregate refers to accusations that furniture was purchased with state funds for the Netanyahus’ private residence in Caesarea.



Electriciangate refers to the Prime Minister’s Residence using an outside contractor for electrical problems in order to get around the residence’s budget limits.

The report goes so far as to say that hiring the private contractor, Avi Fahima, involved “misleading representations.”

Fahima had been disqualified from working on the Netanyahus’ electrical systems on the state’s dime because of his prior relationship with them, yet he ended up performing the work under the guise of working for a different contractor.

In the February State Comptroller’s Report, Shapira said that electricity use was so high at the Prime Minister’s residence that a certain threemonth period cost 70 percent of the electricity budget for the year.

Next, the report said that the outside electrician was called for service nearly every weekend over many months, including on Yom Kippur.

Shapira said that since Sara Netanyahu or her staff had ordered the electrician to come directly, there was less paperwork on which to determine whether the issues could have waited until the work week for regular staff to fix them, saving state funds.

The investigation was sparked by a civil lawsuit by former residence manager Meni Naftali, which started to move forward following the comptroller’s February report. In his report, Shapira said that the Netanyahu family’s use of funds raised “criminal suspicions” and was certainly an ethical violation.

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