Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS/GALI TIBBON/POOL)
A special team of prosecutors and police investigators has collected testimony from Australian billionaire James Packer over his alleged involvement in police Case 1000, the “gifts affair,” tracking him down after extended searches across three continents.
It was reported on Wednesday night that the Israel Police looked for Packer in Argentina, Mexico and Australia.
On Tuesday, the special team, along with Australian interrogators, took “open testimony” from Packer, Channel 2 News reported.
According to the report, the questioning was done with Packer’s cooperation and consent and is considered highly significant.
Packer is reportedly suspected of delivering expensive gifts to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was reported that Packer was asked by international movie producer Arnon Milchan to “bear with him the gifts burden,” gifts given to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.
In response to this report, a police official told The Jerusalem Post: “We are not responding to ongoing investigations and would neither confirm nor deny this report.”
Case 1000 focuses on gifts given to Netanyahu by different businessmen, and police are currently checking whether the prime minster has given anything in return.
While the content of Packer’s testimony is still unknown, Milchan – who testified multiple times in this case and was questioned under caution three months ago in London – has confirmed that he regularly sent cigars and other gifts to the prime minister and his wife.
Recently, the testimony of Hadas Klein, who worked as a personal assistant for both Milchan and Packer, was published. Klein is considered a key witness in this investigation.
In her testimony, she talked about massive supplies of champagne and cigars. However, she said she did not know whether Milchan received anything in return.
According to a Maariv report, Packer confirmed Klein’s testimony to his interrogators.
The prime minister has acknowledged accepting gifts from Milchan but maintains they were exchanged between friends and did not constitute bribery or breach of trust. He has denied any wrongdoing.
“It is allowed, according to the law, to receive gifts from friends,” Netanyahu said at the Knesset in January.
“Arnon Milchan and I have been friends for over 20 years. We are good friends; our wives are good friends,” he said.
Recently, it was reported that Netanyahu submitted to the police photos of him and his family with Milchan and his family to prove their friendship.
In August, it was revealed that Netanyahu was suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in this case for the alleged improper receipt of gifts from different businessmen.
Netanyahu was questioned six times over this case and over Case 2000, the “Yediot Aharonot affair,” in which he allegedly negotiated with publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes for favorable coverage of himself in Yediot Aharonot in exchange for support of a bill to weaken Israel Hayom, the largest circulation Hebrew-language paper and Yediot’s biggest competitor.
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