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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Attorney-General's Office reiterated on Thursday that political considerations played no role in the recent developments in the ongoing investigation against Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman.
According to Justice Ministry representatives, Lieberman is suspected of offenses including bribery, fraud, maintaining false financial records and money laundering. On Sunday, the party chairman's daughter Michal was taken into custody together with six Lieberman associates, including his former lawyer, Yoav Mani.
The National Fraud Unit claims to have evidence that bank accounts opened in Cyprus under the name of Michal Lieberman were used to funnel millions of shekels as an illicit channel for fraud and money laundering.
In a letter written on Wednesday to Ometz-Citizens for Social and Legal Justice in Israel, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz's senior assistant, Raz Nazri, responded to a missive sent by the watchdog group questioning the motives behind the investigation into the party chairman.
"Regarding the timing of the investigation," he wrote, "I can only refer to the statements made this week by State Attorney Moshe Lador, and to further remind you that the attorney-general's instructions maintained in general that the work of the law enforcement authorities in the period immediately preceding the elections will continue as usual, also with regard to procedures involving elected figures and candidates for election."
During a press conference earlier this week, Lador denied allegations that the newest chapter in the Lieberman saga was further evidence of a political witch-hunt against the controversial leader.
"The only thing that is a bigger mistake than carrying out the investigation today would be carrying it out immediately after the elections," Lador argued. "If we had decided to hold back on the investigation now, they would attack us on the other side."
In his letter, Nazri argued that claims that the law enforcement system was simply re-hashing a 10-year-old investigation were baseless, maintaining that "as we already told MK Lieberman's legal representatives, these are significant suspicions and the investigation currently focuses on suspicions involving relatively new materials" that were uncovered earlier last year.
"The allegations that this is a 10-year-old investigation are not accurate, to say the least," Nazri wrote.